Uterine Rupture

What is a Uterine Rupture?

Uterine rupture is a potentially catastrophic complication in pregnancy in which a tear breaks through all layers of the uterine wall. The majority of uterine ruptures occur during labour from pressure and straining on a weakened area of the uterus— perhaps the site of a scar from a previous C-section or fibroid surgery. A uterine rupture is not to be confused with uterine dehiscence, which is a tear involving fewer layers that does not create a complete opening in the uterus.

Delayed response to uterine rupture compromises the child’s survival. Intervention must be undertaken swiftly, an emergency C- section being the most common course of action. In more extreme cases, the fetus protrudes, and in the worst case expels, into the abdominal cavity.

Symptoms at the time of birth indicative of perinatal asphyxia may include:

  • Vaginal bleeding, obstetrical hemorrhage

  • Abdominal pain, or a sensation that something “ripped”

  • Chest pain or pain between scapulae

  • Abnormal fetal heart rate: variable/late decelerations, reduced variability, bradycardia (i.e., abnormally slow)

  • Loss of fetal station — baby not descended through mother’s pelvis

  • Change in uterine activity

Diagnosis of Uterine Rupture

The above symptoms, coupled with a history of surgery or injury to the uterus, suggests a uterine rupture in labour. Vigilant fetal heart rate monitoring and proper interpretation of tracing will indicate fetal distress. Diagnosis may be confirmed by physical examination and laparotomy.

Maternal Risk Factors

  • Vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC)

  • Previous deliveries by caesarean

  • Pre-existing uterine scar or scarring

  • Previous operative vaginal delivery, e.g., use of forceps or vacuum

  • Uterine over-distention, e.g., multifetal gestation, fetal abnormality

  • Polyhydramnios — excess of fluid in amniotic sac

  • Excessive use of oxytocin, prostaglandins


Uterine rupture is an emergency that can occur late in pregnancy or during active labour. Delay in treatment poses serious risk to both mother and child. Obstetrical hemorrhage may be treated by blood transfusion and hysterectomy if uterus cannot be repaired. The maternal prognosis is better than that of the fetus; death to the mother seldom occurs unless bleeding is not controlled.

However, failure to respond adequately to a uterine rupture increases the likelihood of fetal trauma and death. If no intervention is undertaken after a complete uterine tear, the baby likely will die due to interrupted oxygen supply and build-up of acid in the blood.

Uterine Rupture & Cerebral Palsy

A sustained period without adequate oxygen may cause permanent damage to the child’s fragile, developing brain. Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy is brain injury caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain (asphyxia). If uterine rupture causes the child to extrude from the uterus into the mother’s abdominal cavity, the child can be at additional risk of infection causing brain injury. Fetal brain damage around the time of birth can cause cerebral palsy.

If you suffered a uterine rupture and your child has a diagnosis of cerebral palsy, an investigation into the quality of obstetrical care you received is advised.

Our dedicated team can help you.

Our Team

Don Renaud

Don Renaud, Trial & Appellate Lawyer

Don’s sense of accomplishment is derived from verdicts and settlements which improve the lives of his clients. His extensive trial experience, network and training relieves pressure to settle if a more appropriate amount is obtainable through either jury trial or trial by judge alone.

Mark Berry

Mark Berry, Trial & Appellate Lawyer

Mark’s experience as a litigator includes time as both a criminal defense lawyer as well as a federal prosecutor. Mark’s practice is primarily focused on ICBC injury claims. He is dedicated to ensuring that you are properly compensated for any harm suffered.

Chris Lee

Chris Lee, Trial & Appellate Lawyer

Chris maintains a mixed practice of both ICBC and medical negligence files. He is committed to righting the wrongs suffered by innocent people, ensuring their dignity is respected and that they receive proper compensation. His diligence, analytical skills and empathy enable him to provide superior junior counsel work.

Maida Collins

Maida Collins, Paralegal

Maida currently assists Don with serious ICBC claims and complex medical negligence files, including birth trauma and cerebral palsy cases. Among Maida’s responsibilities are case investigation, documentary disclosure, legal document preparation, legal research and analysis, trial preparation, and witness interviews.

Lisa Novak

Lisa Novak, Paralegal

Lisa is involved in the process from initial client consultation to follow-up with clients post-settlement or verdict. Her responsibilities include case investigation, documentary disclosure, legal document preparation, trial preparation, and witness interviews.

Melissa Chu

Melissa Chu, Paralegal

Melissa assists the firm with both ICBC claims and medical negligence files. Her duties include case investigation, documentary disclosure, legal document preparation and trial preparation. Melissa’s positive nature creates a safe and inclusive environment for everyone around her.

Get in touch to discuss your child’s potential case today

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