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Obstetrics & Gynecology:
doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e3181d992fb
Original Research

Risk of Uterine Rupture Associated With an Interdelivery Interval Between 18 and 24 Months

Bujold, Emmanuel MD, MSc; Gauthier, Robert J. MD

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From the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Faculty of Medicine, Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Québec, Université Laval, Québec, Canada; and Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Faculty of Medicine, Hôpital Sainte-Justine, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada.

Supported by Fonds de Recherche des Gynécologues-Obstétriciens (FOREGO) of Hôpital Sainte-Justine and by the Jeanne and Jean-Louis Lévesque Perinatal Research Chair at Université Laval.

The authors thank Mr. Ovid Da Silva for editorial assistance.

Corresponding author: Emmanuel Bujold, MD, MSc, FRCSC, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Québec (CRCHUQ), Faculty of Medicine, Université Laval, 2705 Boulevard Laurier, Québec, QC, Canada G1V 4G2; e-mail: emmanuel.bujold@crchul.ulaval.ca.

Financial Disclosure The authors did not disclose any potential conflicts of interest.

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To estimate the association between interdelivery interval and uterine rupture in women with a previous cesarean delivery.

METHODS: Secondary analysis was performed in a retrospective cohort study of women who underwent a trial of labor after undergoing a previous cesarean delivery. Only singleton pregnancies with a trial of labor at term were included. Women with two or more previous cesarean deliveries or with a vaginal delivery between the cesarean delivery and the trial of labor were excluded. The rates of uterine rupture were compared among women with interdelivery intervals 24 months or longer (controls), 18–24 months, and fewer than 18 months. The χ2 test and multivariable logistic regression analysis were conducted. A P value of less than .05 was considered significant.

RESULTS: A total of 1,768 women were included: 1,323 (74.8%) were 24 months or longer, 257 (14.5%) were 18–23 months, and 188 (10.6%) were fewer than 18 months. The rates of uterine rupture were 1.3%, 1.9%, and 4.8%, respectively (P=.003). After adjustment for confounding factors, an interdelivery interval shorter than 18 months was associated with a significant increase of uterine rupture (odds ratio [OR], 3.0; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.3–7.2), whereas an interdelivery interval between 18 to 24 months was not (OR, 1.1; 95% CI, 0.4–3.2).

CONCLUSION: An interdelivery interval shorter than 18 months, but not between 18 and 24 months, should be considered as a risk factor for uterine rupture.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: II

Uterine rupture remains one of the most catastrophic obstetric emergencies.1,2 Interdelivery and interpregnancy intervals have been associated with the likelihood of uterine rupture and now represent risk factors that should be considered in the management of women contemplating a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC).3–6 In 2001, Shipp et al reported that an interdelivery interval shorter than 18 months was associated with a higher risk of uterine rupture than an interval longer than 18 months.4 In 2002, we found that an interdelivery interval between 12 and 24 months was also associated with a higher risk of uterine rupture than an interval of 24 months or more,5 but we did not investigate the risk of uterine rupture for any other cutoff between 12 and 24 months. In 2004, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists stated that women who attempt VBAC who have interdelivery intervals less than 24 months have a twofold to threefold higher risk of uterine rupture when compared with women who attempt VBAC more than 24 months after their last delivery.7 The same year, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada suggested that an interdelivery interval less than 18–24 months should be viewed as a risk factor for uterine rupture, leaving clinicians in a “gray zone” when counseling women with an interdelivery interval between 18 and 24 months.8 We attempt to correct this uncomfortable situation and reviewed our more recent data for this patient subgroup that constitutes a significant proportion of women. The objective of our study was to estimate the association between interdelivery interval and uterine rupture in women with a previous cesarean delivery.

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MATERIALS AND METHODS

Our retrospective cohort study comprised women with a single previous cesarean delivery who were admitted to Sainte-Justine Hospital between January 1987 and December 2004 to undergo a trial of labor. Part of this database was investigated in the past and reported in several publications.5,9–13 Medical records were reviewed by two independent observers who collected demographic data, medical and obstetric history, complications, and outcomes of the current pregnancy as well as birth weight. The inclusion criteria were singleton pregnancies at 37 or more weeks of gestation at delivery in patients with only one previous low, transverse cesarean delivery. The decision to exclude women undergoing a trial of labor before term was predetermined and based on several factors: 1) they were at very low risk of uterine rupture; 2) it provided a better estimate of the risk for women at term; and 3) we did not have to adjust for length of the current pregnancy. Women with a prior, classical, J-shaped, T-inverted incision or prior transmural myomectomy were excluded, as were women with vaginal delivery or mid-trimester fetal delivery (including spontaneous abortion or voluntary abortion after 14 weeks of gestation) between the previous cesarean delivery and the current pregnancy. The study population was divided into three groups according to the interdelivery interval, defined as the time between the date of the previous cesarean delivery and the date of the trial of labor: 24 months or longer (control group), 18 to 24 months, and fewer than 18 months.

The rate of symptomatic uterine rupture—our primary outcome, defined as complete separation of the uterine scar, resulting in communication between the uterine and peritoneal cavities and requiring emergency cesarean delivery or postpartum laparotomy—was compared across groups. Multivariable logistic regression analyses with and without stepwise selection of covariates were performed to control for potential confounding factors. The following covariates were included in the model: prior uterine closure, interdelivery interval (as categorical variable), labor induction, use of prostaglandins, prior vaginal delivery, maternal age older than 35 years, gestational age at delivery 41 weeks or later, and birth weight more than 4,000 g. The associations were reported as odd ratios with 95% confidence intervals. Medians were compared using Kruskal-Wallis test and proportions were compared using Pearson's χ2 test or the Fisher exact test when appropriate. Statistical analyses were conducted with SPSS 16.0 (Chicago, IL) and P less than .05 was designated to indicate statistical significance. Approval from the Ethics and Scientific Committee of Sainte-Justine Hospital was obtained before the beginning of the study.

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RESULTS

Between January 1987 and December 2004, 1,787 women who met the inclusion and exclusion criteria underwent a trial of labor at term. The date of the previous cesarean delivery and, therefore, the interdelivery interval were not available for 19 (1%) of them, so they were excluded. Of the 1,768 women analyzed, 1,323 (74.8%) had an interdelivery interval of 24 months or longer, 257 (14.5%) had an interval between 18 and 24 months, and 188 (10.6%) had an interval of less than 18 months. Demographic characteristics are reported in Table 1. The rate of successful VBAC (70%, 74%, and 73%, respectively; P=.28) was not different across the three groups, but women with short interdelivery intervals were more likely to be younger and to have had a single-layer closure of their hysterotomy at the time of previous cesarean delivery. The rates of uterine rupture were 1.3% (17 of 1,323), 1.9% (5 of 257), and 4.8% (9 of 188), respectively (P=.003). However, the rate of 5-minunte Apgar score less than 7 was not different among the groups (2.5%, 2.4%, 1.7%, respectively; P=.81). After adjustment for confounding variables, an interdelivery interval less than 18 months was associated with a significant increase of uterine rupture (odds ratio [OR], 3.0; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.3–7.2), whereas an interdelivery interval between 18 and 24 months was not (OR, 1.1; 95% CI, 0.4–3.2) (Table 2). In a stepwise logistic regression analysis, only two covariates remained associated with a significant increase of uterine rupture and in the model: a previous single-layer closure (OR, 7.5; 95% CI, 3.2–17.6) and an interdelivery interval less than 18 months (OR, 2.8; 95% CI, 1.2–6.6). Again, an interdelivery interval between 18 and 23 months was not associated with a significantly greater risk of uterine rupture than an interdelivery interval of 24 months or longer (OR, 1.2; 95% CI, 0.4–3.2). The rate of uterine rupture for an interdelivery interval between 15 and 18 months (6 of 83, 7.2%) was not statistically different than the rate for an interdelivery interval of 15 months or less (3 of 105, 2.9%; Fisher exact test: P=.19), but the power was limited by the small number of women in each group.

Table 1
Table 1
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Table 2
Table 2
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DISCUSSION

As reported in 2002 from a portion of the same database, we observed a positive association between interdelivery interval and uterine rupture. More specifically, the risk of uterine rupture was significantly higher in women with an interdelivery interval less than 18 months than in women with an interval of 24 months or longer, but not in women with an interval between 18 and 23 months, inclusively.

Our findings are also in complete agreement with those of Shipp et al, who discerned a high risk of uterine rupture in women with an interdelivery interval less than 18 months, and with the studies of Esposito et al and Stamilio et al, who noted a high risk of uterine scar defect or uterine rupture in women with an interpregnancy interval less than 6 months, which could be compared with an approximate interdelivery interval of 15 months for women with a second pregnancy at term.3,4,6 In a very large (13,331 women), multicenter, retrospective, cohort study, Stamilio et al reported an adjusted OR for uterine rupture of 3.05 (95% CI, 1.36–6.87) in women with an interpregnancy interval less than 6 months, of 1.18 (95% CI, 0.60–2.33) in women with an interpregnancy interval between 6 and 11 months, and of 1.00 (95% CI, 0.56–1.79) for women with an interpregnancy interval between 12 and 17 months, compared with women with an interpregnancy interval between 18 and 59 months.6 Therefore, their observations fully support ours. Unfortunately, this study was limited because the interpregnancy interval was calculated by using delivery immediately before the study pregnancy, regardless of the delivery mode of that prior delivery, and also by approximating the interpregnancy interval (the cohort database included only the year of the prior delivery and set the prior delivery date as January 1 of the delivery year for each patient). We found three other studies that did not observe an association between interdelivery intervals and uterine rupture.14–16 Huang et al found that an interdelivery interval less than 19 months was associated with a lower rate of successful VBAC but not with uterine rupture.14 This study was limited by its size and the number of uterine ruptures (only three) reported. Ridgeway et al found no difference in the mean interdelivery interval between women who had a uterine rupture and a control groups without uterine rupture.15 However, they did not define the interdelivery interval, and women with multiple cesarean deliveries and prior VBAC were not excluded. Finally, in the study of Grobman et al, interdelivery interval was not a significant factor that remained in their final logistic regression model using a stepwise variable selection, and the crude rate of uterine rupture for short interdelivery intervals was not reported.16 Therefore, we cannot find any study that suggests an increased risk of uterine rupture for women with an interdelivery interval between 18 and 24 months.

Our study remains limited by its retrospective nature and by its inclusion of women who underwent a trial of labor after cesarean delivery over a long observation period from the late 1980s and early 1990s, when there were no guidelines regarding some risk factors (unknown at that time), including labor induction with unfavorable cervix, use of prostaglandins, prolonged dystocia, and single-layer closure. On the other hand, prostaglandin treatment was rare (less than 1%) in our population, and we undertook multivariate logistic regression analysis to adjust for these potential confounding factors. Although the crude rate of uterine rupture for each subgroup was probably not applicable to actual practice where several risk factors were taken into account and the management of labor was most likely quite different, we believe that the association between interdelivery interval and uterine rupture is valid. Finally, the women in our cohort did not undergo lower uterine segment measurement, and therefore we cannot appreciate the potential impact of such information. However, in a recent publication, we found that an interdelivery interval less than 18 months was an independent and an important factor associated with uterine scar defect, after adjustment for a uterine scar thickness less than 2.3 mm and a previous single-layer closure of the uterus.17 Further studies are required to better estimate the role of this tool for women with a short interdelivery interval.

In conclusion, we recommend that women with an interdelivery interval between 18 and 24 months, who represent approximately 15% of women seeking VBAC, should not be precluded from a trial of labor based on this unique factor. On the other hand, we believe that women with an interdelivery interval less than 18 months should be informed of the high risk of uterine rupture during a trial of labor.

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REFERENCES

1. Bujold E, Gauthier RJ. Neonatal morbidity associated with uterine rupture: what are the risk factors? Am J Obstet Gynecol 2002;186:311–4.

2. Guise JM, McDonagh MS, Osterweil P, Nygren P, Chan BK, Helfand M. Systematic review of the incidence and consequences of uterine rupture in women with previous caesarean section. BMJ 2004;329:19–25.

3. Esposito MA, Menihan CA, Malee MP. Association of interpregnancy interval with uterine scar failure in labor: a case-control study. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2000;183:1180–3.

4. Shipp TD, Zelop CM, Repke JT, Cohen A, Lieberman E. Interdelivery interval and risk of symptomatic uterine rupture. Obstet Gynecol 2001;97:175–7.

5. Bujold E, Mehta SH, Bujold C, Gauthier RJ. Interdelivery interval and uterine rupture. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2002;187:1199–202.

6. Stamilio DM, DeFranco E, Pare E, Odibo AO, Peipert JF, Allsworth JE, et al. Short interpregnancy interval: risk of uterine rupture and complications of vaginal birth after cesarean delivery. Obstet Gynecol 2007;110:1075–82.

7. Vaginal birth after previous cesarean. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 54. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Obstet Gynecol 2004;104:203–12.

8. Guidelines for vaginal birth after previous caesarean birth. SOGC Clinical Practice Guidelines No. 155. Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. Int J Gynaecol Obstet 2005;89:319–31.

9. Bujold E, Bujold C, Hamilton EF, Harel F, Gauthier RJ. The impact of a single-layer or double-layer closure on uterine rupture. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2002;186:1326–30.

10. Bujold E, Blackwell SC, Gauthier RJ. Cervical ripening with transcervical foley catheter and the risk of uterine rupture. Obstet Gynecol 2004;103:18–23.

11. Hendler I, Bujold E. Effect of prior vaginal delivery or prior vaginal birth after cesarean delivery on obstetric outcomes in women undergoing trial of labor. Obstet Gynecol 2004;104:273–7.

12. Bujold E, Blackwell SC, Hendler I, Berman S, Sorokin Y, Gauthier RJ. Modified Bishop's score and induction of labor in patients with a previous cesarean delivery. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2004;191:1644–8.

13. Jastrow N, Roberge S, Gauthier R, Laroche L, Duperron L, Brassard N, et al. Effect of birth weight on adverse obstetric outcomes in vaginal birth after cesarean delivery. Obstet Gynecol 2010;115:338–43.

14. Huang WH, Nakashima DK, Rumney PJ, Keegan KA Jr, Chan K. Interdelivery interval and the success of vaginal birth after cesarean delivery. Obstet Gynecol 2002;99:41–4.

15. Ridgeway JJ, Weyrich DL, Benedetti TJ. Fetal heart rate changes associated with uterine rupture. Obstet Gynecol 2004;103:506–12.

16. Grobman WA, Lai Y, Landon MB, Spong CY, Leveno KJ, Rouse DJ, et al. Prediction of uterine rupture associated with attempted vaginal birth after cesarean delivery. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2008;199:30.e1–5.

17. Bujold E, Jastrow N, Simoneau J, Brunet S, Gauthier RJ. Prediction of complete uterine rupture by sonographic evaluation of the lower uterine segment. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2009;201:320.e1–6.

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© 2010 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

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