Etiology of Cesarean Uterine Scar Defect (Niche): Detailed Critical Analysis of Hypotheses and Prevention Strategies and Peritoneal Closure Debate

Shashikant L. Sholapurkar


There is an increasing incidence of cesarean scar (CS) defect/niche and its sequelae, probably not entirely explained by better diagnosis or rising cesarean rate. Discussion of possible etiological factors has received scant attention but would be important to formulate preventive strategies. Meaningful informative studies on long-term sequelae of cesarean section are very difficult and none are available for causation of CS defect. Hence, it is crucial to identify key areas in etiology of CS defect for focused research. This practical review proposes an “ischemia and mal-apposition hypothesis for CS niche”, stating that the surgical technique of uterine incision closure is the most important determinant of CS defect formation. Other factors such as cervical location incision, adhesion formation and patient specific factors seem far less important in etiology. Rather than the headline theme of “single versus double-layer closure of uterus”, the finer details of surgical technique which achieve good apposition without inducing tissue ischemia seem more important. Different techniques are discussed and it is proposed that continuous, non-locking absorbable sutures in two layers, without including much of decidua and without undue tight (constricting/devasculaizing) pulling of sutures are likely to result in good healing of uterine scar. Single-layer technique may be best reserved for thin myometrial edges especially during repeat cesareans. Adhesions between uterine isthmus and bladder/abdominal wall seem common associations but not causative for CS niche. It would be desirable to prove these surgical principles by good quality prospective randomized “quantitative” studies but the wait may be very long and this should not hinder the adoption of good surgical principles. Science is much cognitive and not just empirical. To consider a related example, the current recommendation of non-suturing of peritoneal layers during cesarean is mistakenly based on short-term irrelevant surrogate outcomes like analgesic requirements and time-saving, many of which have been already disproven. Evidence is presented recommending simple quick techniques of peritoneal closure to prevent adhesions. More analytical debate in surgical techniques is needed to inspire engaged, critical and insightful practitioners rather than unquestioning dependence on weak evidence/guidance.

J Clin Med Res. 2018;10(3):166-173


Cesarean scar defect; Cesarean scar niche; Uterine incision closure; Cesarean single layer closure; Cesarean double layer closure; Etiology of cesarean scar defect; Peritoneal closure during cesarean; Adhesion formation after cesarean

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