Peripartum pubic symphysis separation: a case series and review of the literature

Obstet Gynecol Surv. 1997 Jul;52(7):438-43. doi: 10.1097/00006254-199707000-00023.


Peripartum pubic symphysis separation is a recognized complication of pregnancy with incidence estimates ranging from 1:300 to 1:30,000. Characteristic symptoms of symphyseal separation include suprapubic pain and tenderness with radiation to the back of legs, difficulty ambulating, and occasionally, bladder dysfunction. Clinical history, presenting symptoms, and response to therapy are sufficient to make the diagnosis, although radiographic documentation of symphyseal separation by x-ray or ultrasound are frequently used to confirm the diagnosis. The underlying etiology of symptomatic symphyseal separation has not been fully elucidated. Associations with multiparity, macrosomia, pathological joint loosening, and increased force placed on the pelvic ring have been suggested as possible etiologies. Conservative therapy, including bedrest, pelvic binders, ambulation devices, and mild analgesics usually result in a complete recovery with 4 to 6 weeks. The occurrence of a symphyseal separation should not significantly alter the management of subsequent pregnancies, and conservative therapy is recommended for any recurrence of symptoms. A retrospective review of our experience with 5121 deliveries from 1994 to 1995 found 9 cases of peripartum symphyseal separation, resulting in an incidence of 1 of 569 deliveries. Details regarding this case series and a review of the literature are presented.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Birth Weight
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Obstetric Labor Complications / etiology*
  • Obstetric Labor Complications / physiopathology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pubic Symphysis / injuries*
  • Pubic Symphysis / physiopathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors