Rising rates of caesarean deliveries at full cervical dilatation: a concerning trend

Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2011 Aug;157(2):141-4. doi: 10.1016/j.ejogrb.2011.03.008. Epub 2011 Apr 5.


Objectives: To audit caesarean sections performed at full cervical dilatation over a three year period in a tertiary referral centre in Ireland. To evaluate (i) the rate of caesarean deliveries in the second stage of labour, (ii) the indication for delivery and (iii) the associated fetal and maternal morbidity in this cohort of women.

Study design: This cohort study was carried out in the University Hospital Galway (UHG). Medical records of 136 consecutive women with singleton cephalic pregnancies at term, identified from the hospital database, who underwent a second stage caesarean section (CS) between 1 January 2006 and 31 December 2008, were reviewed retrospectively and demographic and outcome data were collected.

Results: During the study period 2801/10,202 (27.5%) babies were delivered by CS. One hundred and thirty six CS (4.8%) were performed at full dilatation. The rate of CS during the second stage increased from 0.9% in 2006 to 1.8% in 2008. The majority of women were nulliparous (76.5%) and in spontaneous labour (64%). 44.1% of women had a second stage CS without a trial of instrumental delivery. 41.3% of public deliveries were attended by a consultant. The majority of babies (54%) were delivered because of a prolonged second stage with a mean duration of 146 min from full dilatation to delivery. Twenty-four of 59 primiparous women (40.7%), who underwent CS because of a prolonged second stage, did not receive oxytocin. 13.2% of babies were admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit. Estimated blood loss was documented in 67% of cases (n=91); 14.3% of women (n=13) had a postpartum haemorrhage greater than or equal to 1000 mls. 23% of these women (n=3) required a blood transfusion. The overall blood transfusion rate was 2.2%. 50% of women had a hospital stay of greater than four days.

Conclusions: There is a worrying rise in the overall rate of CS at full dilatation. Audit of the second stage CS rate is a useful measure of clinical standards. Strategies for improved care include increased consultant presence, meticulous documentation and ongoing training of junior obstetric staff to ensure safe intrapartum care.

Condensation: The increase of second stage caesarean sections requires urgent strategies for improved care including increased consultant presence, meticulous documentation and training of junior obstetric staff.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blood Transfusion
  • Cesarean Section / statistics & numerical data
  • Cesarean Section / trends*
  • Clinical Audit*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ireland
  • Labor Stage, First / physiology*
  • Labor Stage, Second / physiology*
  • Length of Stay
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult