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VBAC: Uterine Scar Rupture

Topic Overview

The most rare yet most serious risk of vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) is that the scar on the uterus may break open (rupture) during labor. Women who have a low transverse cesarean scar have a lower risk of rupturing than women who have a vertical incision scar. About 5 out of 1,000 women (0.5%) with a low transverse scar have a uterine rupture during a trial of labor.

A woman's risk of uterine rupture increases with:

  • Each additional uterine surgical scar.
  • Any uterine scar that reaches above the lower, thinner part of the uterus, such as a vertical (classical) scar.
  • The use of medicine to start (induce) labor. Some doctors avoid the use of any medicine to start a VBAC trial of labor. Other doctors are comfortable with the careful use of certain medicines to start labor.

In the rare event that a uterine scar ruptures, it can be dangerous to both the mother and her infant.

Depending on severity, a rupture can:

  • Be mild and harmless.
  • Often be repaired. If it is not repairable, the uterus is removed (hysterectomy).
  • Cause severe maternal bleeding and a decrease in oxygen to the baby.
  • Cause fetal brain damage or death.

References

Citations

  1. Guise JM, et al. (2010). Vaginal birth after cesarean: New insights. Evidence Report (Publication No. 10-E003). Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Credits

Current as of: May 29, 2019

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Sarah A. Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology, Reproductive Endocrinology

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