Surgical Techniques

Transabdominal cerclage for managing recurrent pregnancy loss

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Complications and risks of abdominal cerclage

As the data suggest and our experience confirms, transabdominal cerclage is highly successful in patients who have failed a history-indicated transvaginal cerclage; however, the transabdominal approach carries a higher surgical risk. Risks include intraoperative hemorrhage, conversion to laparotomy, and a range of rare surgical and obstetric complications, such as bladder injury and PPROM.13,18

If a patient experiences a fetal loss in the first trimester, a dilation and curettage (D&C) can be performed, with good obstetric outcomes in subsequent pregnancies.19 If the patient experiences an early-to-mid second-trimester loss, some studies suggest that a dilation and evacuation (D&E) of the uterus can be done with sufficient dilation of the cervix to accommodate up to a 15-mm cannula and Sopher forceps.19 Laminaria also may be used in this process. However, no data exist regarding success of future pregnancies and transabdominal cerclage integrity after a D&E.20 If the cerclage prevents successful dilation of the cervix, the cerclage must be removed laparoscopically prior to performing the D&E.

In late second-trimester and third-trimester loss, the cerclage must be removed to allow passage of the fetus and placenta prior to a D&E or an induction of labor.20

For patients with PPROM or preterm labor, data are limited regarding management recommendations. However, in these complex cases, we strongly recommend an individualized approach and co-management with maternal-fetal medicine specialists.

CASE Resolved

The cerclage is left in place during the patient’s cesarean delivery, and her postpartum course is uneventful. She continued without complications for the next year, at which time she sees you in the office with plans to have another pregnancy later in the year. You counsel her that her abdominal cerclage will still be effective and that she can get pregnant with expectations of similar outcomes as her previous pregnancy. She thanks you for everything and reports that she hopes to return later in the year for her first prenatal visit. ●

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