Background: Caesarean section is a common operation. Techniques vary depending on both the clinical situation and the preferences of the operator.
Objectives: To compare the effects of 1) different types of uterine incision, 2) methods of performing the uterine incision, 3) suture materials and technique of uterine closure (including single versus double layer closure of the uterine incision) on maternal health, infant health, and health care resource use.
Search strategy: We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (November 2007).
Selection criteria: All published, unpublished, and ongoing randomised controlled trials comparing various types and closure of uterine incision during caesarean section.
Data collection and analysis: Two authors evaluated trials for inclusion and methodological quality without consideration of their results according to the stated eligibility criteria and extracted data independently.
Main results: We identified 30 studies, of which 15 (3972 women) were included. Ten trials compared single layer uterine closure with double layer uterine closure (2531 women), two trials compared blunt with sharp dissection at the time of the uterine incision (1241 women), and two trials compared auto-suture devices with traditional hysterotomy (300 women). Blunt dissection was associated with a reduction in mean blood loss at the time of the procedure when compared with sharp dissection of the uterine incision (one study, 945 women, mean difference (MD) -43.00, 95% confidence interval (CI) -66.12 to -19.88). There was no statistically significant difference related to need for blood transfusion (one study, 945 women, risk ratio (RR) 0.22, 95% CI 0.05 to 1.01). The use of an auto-suture instrument when compared with traditional methods of hysterotomy was associated with no difference in the amount of blood loss during the procedure (one study, 200 women, MD -87.00, 95% CI -175.09 to 1.09), but a statistically significant increase in the duration of the procedure (one study, 197 women, MD 3.30, 95% CI 0.02 to 6.62). Single layer closure compared with double layer closure was associated with a statistically significant reduction in mean blood loss (three studies, 527 women, MD -70.11, 95% CI -101.61 to -38.60); duration of the operative procedure (four studies, 645 women, MD -7.43, 95% CI -8.41 to -6.46); and presence of postoperative pain (one study, 158 women, RR 0.69, 95% CI 0.52 to 0.91).
Authors' conclusions: While caesarean section is a common procedure performed on women worldwide, there is little information available to inform the most appropriate surgical technique to adopt.