Rupture of the primigravid uterus: a review of the literature

Obstet Gynecol Surv. 2007 May;62(5):327-34; quiz 353-4. 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.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cesarean Section / adverse effects
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Gravidity*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant Mortality
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Obstetric Labor Complications / diagnosis
  • Obstetric Labor Complications / epidemiology*
  • Obstetric Labor Complications / etiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Risk Factors
  • Rupture, Spontaneous
  • Uterine Rupture / diagnosis
  • Uterine Rupture / epidemiology*
  • Uterine Rupture / etiology