An observational retrospective study was conducted at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Enugu, Nigeria to determine the outcome for patients with rupture of the gravid uterus who had anaesthesia for laparotomy over a four-year period, July 2000 to June 2004. The hospital records (case files, labour ward and theatre records) of patients over a four-year period with rupture of the uterus were reviewed. A total of 2707 deliveries took place at UNTH, Enugu, Nigeria. There were 2556 live births (94.8% of deliveries) and 714 (26.4%) caesarean deliveries. Twenty-three cases of uterine rupture occurred, giving a prevalence of 8.5/1000 deliveries. In nine patents (39.1%) the uterus was already scarred. The patients’ mean age was 30.2 years. No nulliparous patients suffered ruptured uterus. General anaesthesia with muscle relaxants was administered to all patients. Twenty-two patients (95.6%) received blood transfusions. All the patients received normal saline and one patient also received Haemacel. Five (21.7%) patients had preoperative hypotension and two (8.6%) had intraoperative hypotension. There was one maternal death which occurred three days after the cesarean section. Twenty-three (96.3%) fetal deaths, including the loss of a set of twins, were recorded. Fetal deaths from ruptured uterus represented 32.4% of all fetal loss following caesarean section during the study period. There were no neonatal deaths. Rupture of the gravid uterus presents the anaesthetist with the unique challenge of maintaining haemodynamic status before haemostasis is secured, often with the patient in shock. Choice of anaesthetic drugs and availability of blood are important, as well as the skill and experience of the anaesthetist. The maternal mortality rates in other West African studies reviewed were generally higher than those in this series. The maternal outcome re-emphasises the vital role of prompt intervention and availability of blood in reducing maternal mortality following rupture of the uterus.
International Journal of Obstetric Anesthesia 05/2006; 15(2):124-8. DOI:10.1016/j.ijoa.2005.10.009