The finding on this link between peritoneum closure and fewer adhesions (scars that form abnormal connections between two parts of the body) runs contrary to current literature on the drawbacks of the procedure in non-pregnant women and contrary to current thinking among many surgeons.
"This was a surprise finding," said Deirdre Lyell, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology and lead author of a paper appearing in the August issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology. "We were fully expecting to find that closing the peritoneum at caesarean delivery would increase adhesions."
More than 1 million caesareans - just over 27 percent of all births in the United States-are performed each year. However, Lyell said there is a lack of literature on the long-term impact of various parts of the procedure, including the closure of a woman's peritoneum following delivery. When c-sections are performed, surgeons must cut through the parietal peritoneum layer. The question plaguing Lyell was whether it is better to close it at the end of the caesarean or allow the membrane to heal on its own.
"There is surprisingly little data on the best way to perform c-sections," said Lyell, who is also part of the Johnson Center for Pregnancy and Newborn Services at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital.
Although the tradition had been to close the peritoneum following delivery, recent short-term studies have linked such closures with increased operation time and postoperative pain. There has also been co