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Uterine Rupture


Julie S. Moldenhauer

, MD, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Last full review/revision Jan 2020| Content last modified Jan 2020

Uterine rupture is a spontaneous tearing open of the uterus that may result in the fetus floating in the abdomen.

Rupture of the uterus is very rare. It is an emergency requiring immediate treatment.

The uterus can rupture before or during labor.

The following increase the risk of uterine rupture:

  • Women have had a previous cesarean delivery, especially if labor had to be started artificially (induced) instead of occurring spontaneously.
  • Women have had surgery on the uterus.
  • The uterus is stretched too much (for example, by too much amniotic fluid in the uterus or by several fetuses).
  • The fetus is in the wrong position for delivery and has to be turned.

Rupture causes severe, constant pain in the abdomen and an abnormally slow heart rate in the fetus.

To confirm the diagnosis of a ruptured uterus, doctors may make an incision in the abdomen so that they can directly view the uterus. This procedure is called a laparotomy.

The fetus must be delivered by cesarean immediately. The uterus is then repaired surgically. Sometimes removal of the uterus (hysterectomy) is necessary.

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