From the Journals

New uterine compression technique controls postpartum hemorrhage


 

FROM OBSTETRICS & GYNECOLOGY

A newly described uterine compression technique that uses simple supplies and does not require hysterotomy was successful in controlling postpartum hemorrhage in 16 of 18 (89%) women in two teaching hospitals in Nigeria, averting the need for hysterectomy in these women.

Each of the women had severe postpartum hemorrhage attributable to uterine atony and had undergone local protocols for medical management “to no avail,” Chidi Ochu Uzoma Esike, MD, who developed the technique, wrote in a report published in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The technique involves placing six polyglactin (Vicryl) #2 or chromic #2 sutures in the lower uterine segment – three anteriorly and three posteriorly – and could be particularly useful in developing countries, where many women die from postpartum hemorrhage “because most of the medical officers who attend the majority of births in health facilities can perform cesarean delivery but cannot perform hysterectomy and find existing compression suture techniques too complex to perform,” Dr. Esike wrote in the case series report.

In addition, “specialized sutures and needles required for some of the known compression techniques are not readily available,” said Dr. Esike of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Alex Ekwueme Federal University Hospital and Ebyonyi State University in Abakaliki, Nigeria.

Angela Martin, MD, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, said that “having a quick and effective surgical technique [for uncontrollable postpartum hemorrhage] is essential.”

“I love that Esike’s technique uses polyglactin (Vicryl) or chromic sutures. These are familiar to most surgeons, cheap, and typically available even in most resource-deficient settings,” said Dr. Martin, who was asked to comment on the report, adding that several of the known surgical techniques for uterine atony require a skilled operator and are indeed not universally feasible.

“If successful,” Dr. Martin said in an interview, “compression sutures can be lifesaving and fertility preserving.”

The technique involves tying the two middle sutures (one placed anteriorly and one posteriorly) at the fundus as an assistant slowly and continuously compresses the uterus. The more laterally placed sutures are tied similarly, with each pair tied at about 4 cm from the lateral edge of the uterus. “As the uterus is compressed, the slack should be taken up by the sutures before tying,” said Dr. Esike, whose report features both diagrammatic and photographic representations of suture insertion and tying.

For patients who delivered vaginally – nine in this case series – the technique involves performing a laparotomy and exteriorizing the uterus. The technique’s “suture placement,” Dr. Esike wrote, “took 11-25 minutes from the onset of laparotomy to completion.” There were no short or long-term complications in any of the 18 patients.

B-Lynch compression sutures are more complex to perform and require a larger curved needle, Dr. Esike wrote, and the Hayman technique similarly requires a longer needle that may not be available in resource-constrained countries. The hysterotomy required in the B-Lynch technique, Dr. Esike added, “leads to the uterus not contracting maximally until it is repaired,” which increases blood loss from the procedure.

Dr. Martin said the small size of the case series is not discouraging. “The B-Lynch suture was widely adopted after it was described in five cases in 1997,” she said. There are no randomized controlled trials to suggest that one method of uterine compression sutures is better than another. “Ultimately,” she said, “the technique chosen will depend on the surgeon’s training and available supplies.”

Dr. Esike had no relevant financial disclosures. Dr. Martin had no relevant financial disclosures.

SOURCE: Esike COU. Obstet Gynecol. 2020. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000003947.

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