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Rupture of the Primigravid Uterus: A Review of the Literature

Walsh, Colin A. MB, MRCPI*; Baxi, Laxmi V. MD

Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey: May 2007 - Volume 62 - Issue 5 - p 327-334
doi: 10.1097/01.ogx.0000261643.11301.56

Uterine rupture is a catastrophic obstetric complication, associated with high rates of perinatal morbidity and mortality. The most common risk factor is previous uterine surgery, and most cases of uterine rupture occur in women with a previous cesarean delivery. Traditionally, the primigravid uterus has been considered almost immune to spontaneous rupture. In fact, although spontaneous rupture of the primigravid uterus is indeed a very rare event, a number of such cases have been reported recently. Prompt recognition of uterine rupture and expeditious recourse to laparotomy are critical in influencing perinatal and maternal morbidity. Not all uterine ruptures present with the typical clinical picture of abdominal pain, hypovolemia, vaginal bleeding, and fetal compromise. Therefore, it is important to maintain a high index of suspicion for uterine rupture in women presenting with some, or all, of these features, regardless of parity. Here we provide a systematic review of cases of spontaneous uterine rupture in primigravid women reported in the literature to date. Clinical presentation, differential diagnosis, common etiological factors, complication rates, and appropriate management of this rare obstetric event are discussed.

Target Audience: Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Family Physicians

Learning Objectives: After completion of this article, the reader should be able to recall that uterine rupture in a primigravida is a rare event, without typical signs and symptoms, and explain that the morbidity and mortality of the mother and child is directly related to a high index of suspicion and prompt treatment by the clinician.

*Resident in Obstetrics and Gynecology and †Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Sloane Hospital for Women at Columbia University Medical Center, New York Presbyterian Hospital, New York, New York

Chief Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series of continuing education activities in this Journal through which a total of 36 AMA/PRA Category 1 Credits™ can be earned in 2007. Instructions for how CME credits can be earned appear on the last page of the Table of Contents.

The authors have disclosed that they have no financial relationships with or interests in any commercial companies pertaining to this educational activity.

Lippincott Continuing Medical Education Institute, Inc. has identified and resolved all faculty conflicts of interest regarding this educational activity.

Reprint requests to: Laxmi Baxi, MD, Department of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY 10032. E-mail:

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.