A uterine rupture is a potentially life threatening condition for both mother and baby which typically occurs when the forces and stresses of uterine contractions associated with attempted vaginal delivery cause the uterus to tear open, potentially expelling the unborn baby into the mother’s abdomen.
In such cases, maternal or fetal death or fetal asphyxia with associated long-term neurologic impairment are common consequences, particularly in those cases where medical personnel fail to appreciate the risk of uterine rupture or fail to act expeditiously when uterine rupture occurs.
Although a uterine rupture may sometimes develop as a result of pre-existing injury or trauma, it is generally recognized that the most common cause of uterine rupture is the separation of a previous cesarean section scar during labor.
Thus, it has been recognized that the induction or augmentation of labor in patients who previously had a cesarean section, a so-called “VBAC” delivery, is associated with an increased risk of uterine rupture.
Medical studies have indicated that when prostaglandin agents, such as Cervidil or Prepidil, are utilized to induce labor in a patient who had a previous cesarean delivery, there is also an associated increased risk of uterine rupture.
Because of the risk of uterine rupture, many safe and careful obstetricians will not use any medications such as Oxytocin, also called Pitocin, or prostaglandins, to either induce or augment the labor of a patient who has had a prior cesarean section.
A uterine rupture, or the separation of a surgical scar from a prior cesarean section, can result in massive maternal hemorrhage and frequently requires that the mother undergo a complete hysterectomy.
Because of the potentially grave and oft times fatal risks to both mother and baby associated with uterine rupture, careful and safe obstetricians and obstetrical nurses closely will monitor the labor of any patient who has increased risk factors for uterine rupture.
If uterine rupture occurs, maternal hemorrhage must be promptly controlled and the baby must be delivered as expeditiously as is reasonably possible.
However, most careful and safe obstetricians appreciate that the best treatment for uterine rupture is to prevent its occurrence in the first place.
The Law Firm of Dugan, Babij, Tolley & Kohler, LLC has extensive experience in representing families whose loved ones have died or been injured as a result of catastrophic uterine rupture.