Background: Rates of caesarean section (CS) have been rising globally. It is important to use the most effective and safe technique.
Objectives: To compare the effects of complete methods of caesarean section; and to summarise the findings of reviews of individual aspects of caesarean section technique.
Search strategy: We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (August 2007), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (The Cochrane Library 2007, Issue 3) and reference lists of identified papers.
Selection criteria: Randomised controlled trials of intention to perform caesarean section using different techniques.
Data collection and analysis: Two review authors independently assessed studies and extracted data.
Main results: 'Joel-Cohen based' compared with Pfannenstiel CS was associated with: less blood loss, (five trials, 481 women; weighted mean difference (WMD) -64.45 ml; 95% confidence interval (CI) -91.34 to -37.56 ml); shorter operating time (five trials, 581 women; WMD -18.65; 95% CI -24.84 to -12.45 minutes); postoperatively, reduced time to oral intake (five trials, 481 women; WMD -3.92; 95% CI -7.13 to -0.71 hours); less fever (eight trials, 1412 women; relative risk (RR) 0.47; 95% CI 0.28 to 0.81); shorter duration of postoperative pain (two comparisons from one trial, 172 women; WMD -14.18 hours; 95% CI -18.31 to -10.04 hours); fewer analgesic injections (two trials, 151 women; WMD -0.92; 95% CI -1.20 to -0.63); and shorter time from skin incision to birth of the baby (five trials, 575 women; WMD -3.84 minutes; 95% CI -5.41 to -2.27 minutes). Serious complications and blood transfusions were too few for analysis.Misgav-Ladach compared with the traditional method (lower midline abdominal incision) was associated with reduced: blood loss (339 women; WMD -93.00; 95% CI -132.72 to -53.28 ml); operating time (339 women; WMD-7.30; 95% CI -8.32 to -6.28 minutes); time to mobilisation (339 women; WMD -16.06; 95% CI -18.22 to -13.90 hours); and length of postoperative stay for the mother (339 women; WMD -0.82; 95% CI -1.08 to -0.56 days). Misgav-Ladach compared with modified Misgav-Ladach methods was associated with a longer time from skin incision to birth of the baby (116 women; WMD 2.10; 95% CI 1.10 to 3.10 minutes).
Authors' conclusions: 'Joel-Cohen based' methods have advantages compared to Pfannenstiel and to traditional (lower midline) CS techniques, which could translate to savings for the health system. However, these trials do not provide information on mortality and serious or long-term morbidity such as morbidly adherent placenta and scar rupture.