, Volume 276, Issue 5, pp 537-540
Date: 18 Apr 2007

Fetal survival following posterior uterine wall rupture during labour with intact previous caesarean section scar

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Posterior wall rupture of the uterus in presence of previous caesarean scar is an extremely rare and unpredictable event.

Case report

A 26-year old lady in her second pregnancy went into spontaneous labour at 41 weeks gestation. She had emergency caesarean section in her previous pregnancy. She made slow progress in labour to full dilatation without augmentation, but was noted to have fresh vaginal bleeding and breakthrough pain despite an epidural. Uterine scar rupture was suspected and an emergency lower segment caesarean section was carried out. Fresh intraperitoneal bleeding was noted but with an intact previous scar. The baby was delivered in good condition. A vertical posterior uterine wall rupture of the lower segment, 5 cm in length, was found to be bleeding profusely and was successfully repaired.


Uterine rupture is a rare but serious complication. Usually the rupture occurs through the previous uterine scar. There are only four reported cases in the literature of posterior uterine rupture in labour through “healthy” uterine tissue in women with previous caesarean section. This is the first instance of fetal survival. The exact mechanism is unknown but likely to be a combination of factors including prostaglandin use, element of obstruction and strong inelastic scar.


Strict vigilance is required during labour in women with previous scar. Early recognition of imminent scar rupture should speed delivery and improve the outcome for mother and baby.