Repeat Cesarean Delivery:
What Indications Are Recorded in the Medical Chart?
Background:National surveillance estimates reported a troubling 63 percent decline in the rate of vaginal birth after cesarean delivery (VBAC) from 1996 (28.3%) to 2003 (10.6%), with subsequent rising rates of repeat cesarean delivery. The study objective was to examine patterns of documented indications for repeat cesarean delivery in women with and without labor. Methods:We conducted a population‐based validation study of 19 nonfederal short‐stay hospitals in Washington state. Of the 4,541 women who had live births in 2000, 11 percent (n = 493) had repeat cesarean without labor and 3 percent (n = 138) had repeat cesarean with labor. Incidence of medical conditions and pregnancy complications, patterns of documented indications for repeat cesarean delivery, and perioperative complications in relation to repeat cesarean delivery with and without labor were calculated. Results:Of the 493 women who underwent a repeat cesarean delivery without labor, “elective”(36%) and “maternal request”(18%) were the most common indications. Indications for maternal medical conditions (3.0%) were uncommon. Among the 138 women with repeat cesarean delivery with labor, 60.1 percent had failure to progress, 24.6 percent a non‐reassuring fetal heart rate, 8.0 percent cephalopelvic disproportion, and 7.2 percent maternal request during labor. Fetal indications were less common (5.8%). Breech, failed vacuum, abruptio placentae, maternal complications, and failed forceps were all indicated less than 5.0 percent. Women's perioperative complications did not vary significantly between women without and with labor. Regardless of a woman's labor status, nearly 10 percent of women with repeat cesarean delivery had no documented indication as to why a cesarean delivery was performed. Conclusions:“Elective” and “maternal request” were common indications among women undergoing repeat cesarean delivery without labor, and nearly 10 percent of women had undocumented indications for repeat cesarean delivery in their medical record. Improvements in standardization of indication nomenclature and documentation of indication are especially important for understanding falling VBAC rates. Future research should examine how clinicians and women anticipate, discuss, and make decisions about childbirth after a previous cesarean delivery within the context of actual antepartum care. (BIRTH 33:1 March 2006)
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2006-03-01