Uterine Rupture Lawyers
Did You Suffer a Ruptured Uterus?
Uterine rupture is a dangerous complication of pregnancy that can be life-threatening to the mother and the baby. The uterus is the organ in the mother’s body that holds the baby during pregnancy. The uterus is also referred to as the mother’s “womb.” The uterus is a muscular organ that contracts during labor to force the baby through the birth canal for a vaginal delivery.
The placenta is an organ that is created during pregnancy to nourish the baby. The placenta attaches to the inside of the mother’s uterus and then attaches to the baby by the umbilical cord. The mother provides oxygen and nutrients to the baby through the placenta and the umbilical cord.
Uterine rupture is a tear, separation, or rupture of the uterine wall through some or all of the uterine tissue layers. Uterine rupture is associated with clinically significant uterine bleeding; fetal distress; and expulsion or protrusion of the baby, placenta, or both out of the uterus and into the mother’s abdominal cavity. If the uterus tears or ruptures, the baby can be deprived of blood flow from the mother (ischemia) or deprived of oxygen (hypoxia), which can lead to birth asphyxia, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy and, later, cerebral palsy. Uterine rupture is a medical emergency and may require an immediate Cesarean section delivery to protect the baby and the mother.
Risk Factors for Uterine Rupture
Uterine rupture is a known risk in a VBAC delivery. VBAC refers to "vaginal birth after Cesarean" delivery. A mother who has previously had a Cesarean section has a scar on her uterus from the incision. During contractions of the uterus, the scar from the previous Cesarean section may tear or rupture, allowing the baby, the placenta, or the umbilical cord to "leak" out of the uterus into the abdominal cavity. This is a type of birth trauma that can result in lack of blood flow and lack of oxygen to the baby causing birth asphyxia and hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy.
Labor Induction and Cytotec
Cytotec (misoprostol) is a drug frequently used by doctors and hospitals in an "off-label" capacity to induce labor. As the time for delivery approaches, the mother’s cervix becomes soft and begins to open and thin. In medical terms, the cervix ripens, dilates, and becomes effaced. When a doctor decides to induce labor; hospitals, doctors, and nurses frequently use Cytotec for labor induction.
Cytotec is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of stomach ulcers. Cytotec is a pill doctors sometimes place inside the mother’s body next to the cervix to cause the cervix to soften, open, and thin.
Cytotec is associated with a clinically significant number of uterine ruptures in VBAC deliveries, and many medical professionals believe that misoprostol should not be used in VBAC deliveries.
Labor Induction and Pitocin
Pitocin is a drug that is commonly used to induce labor. Pitocin is a synthetic (manufactured) form of the naturally occurring hormone, oxytocin. When a pregnant woman is ready for labor and delivery, her body releases oxytocin, which causes the uterus to contract. The contractions of the uterus force the baby through the birth canal for delivery. When a doctor decides to induce labor, the doctor may order Pitocin to cause the uterine contractions to occur more frequently and to be stronger.
Pitocin is a useful drug, but it can also be an extremely dangerous drug if it is not used properly by hospitals, doctors, and nurses. Pitocin can cause the uterine contractions to become too strong or to happen too frequently or too fast. When Pitocin is used on a VBAC mother or on a mother who has delivered five or more babies (a "grand multiparous" mother), there is an increased risk of uterine rupture.
Diagnosis of Uterine Rupture
Signs of uterine rupture include:
- Abnormal fetal heart rate. The baby’s heart rate may slow, sometimes dramatically, indicating fetal distress and lack of blood flow and oxygen to the baby.
- Weakening contractions. The strength of the uterine contractions recorded on the fetal heart monitor may weaken, indicating that the muscular uterus is not functioning properly.
- Abdominal pain. The mother may experience a sudden onset of abdominal pain.
- Maternal hypotension (lowered blood pressure) and tachycardia (elevated heart rate).
- Vaginal bleeding.
The diagnosis of uterine rupture is usually based on observing one or more of the clinical symptoms of rupture or radiologic studies that identify the disruption of the uterine layers.
There is really no way to prevent a uterine rupture. However, if a mother has risk factors for uterine rupture, such as prior Cesarean deliveries, prior traumatic deliveries, or has had multiple babies, the medical providers should be aware of the risk and should closely monitor the mother and the baby for signs of a rupture.
Birth Asphyxia and Birth Injury Caused by Uterine Rupture
Our birth injury attorneys have experience in uterine rupture. We’ve represented a young boy who suffered a birth injury resulting from a uterine "dehiscence" (split in the C-section’s surgical incision) and compression of the umbilical cord.
If you had a uterine rupture and your child suffered an injury, you should determine whether the uterine rupture and your child's injury could have been prevented. We will investigate the events leading up to the uterine rupture and determine whether proper medical care should have prevented the injury. We will be glad to talk to you about these issues and give you advice about your legal rights and the rights of your child. Please contact experienced birth injury attorney Laura Brown at (214) 974-4121.