From the Editor

Cesarean myomectomy: Safe operation or surgical folly?

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In many countries cesarean myomectomy is now viewed as a safe and effective procedure in carefully selected clinical situations



Uterine leiomyomata (fibroids) are the most common pelvic tumor of women. When women are planning to conceive, and their fibroid(s) are clinically significant, causing abnormal uterine bleeding or bulk symptoms, it is often optimal to remove the uterine tumor(s) before conception. Advances in minimally invasive surgery offer women the option of laparoscopic or robot-assisted myomectomy with a low rate of operative complications, including excessive blood loss and hysterectomy, and a low rate of postoperative complications, including major pelvic adhesions and uterine rupture during subsequent pregnancy.1-3 However, many women become pregnant when they have clinically significant fibroids, and at least one-third of these women will have a cesarean birth.

Important clinical issues are the relative benefits and risks of performing a myomectomy at the time of the cesarean birth, so called cesarean myomectomy. Cesarean myomectomy offers carefully selected women the opportunity to have a cesarean birth and myomectomy in one operation, thereby avoiding a second major operation. Over the past 6 decades, most experts in the United States and the United Kingdom have strongly recommended against myomectomy at the time of cesarean delivery because of the risk of excessive blood loss and hysterectomy. Recently, expert opinion has shifted, especially in continental Europe and Asia, and cesarean myomectomy is now viewed as an acceptable surgical option in a limited number of clinical situations, including removal of pedunculated fibroids, excision of large solitary subserosal fibroids, and to achieve optimal management of the hysterotomy incision.

Decades of expert guidance: Avoid cesarean myomectomy at all costs

Dr. K.S.J. Olah succinctly captured the standard teaching that cesarean myomectomy should be avoided in this personal vignette:

Many years ago as a trainee I removed a subserosal fibroid during a cesarean section that was hanging by a thin stalk on the back of the uterus. The berating I received was severe and disproportionate to the crime. The rule was that myomectomy performed at cesarean section was not just frowned upon but expressly forbidden. It has always been considered foolish to consider removing fibroids at cesarean section, mostly because of the associated morbidity and the risk of haemorrhage requiring hysterectomy.4

Dr. Olah quoted guidance from Shaw’s Textbook of Operative Gynaecology,5 “It should be stressed that myomectomy in pregnancy should be avoided at all costs, including at caesarean section.” However, large case series published over the past 10 years report that, in limited clinical situations, cesarean myomectomy is a viable surgical option, where benefit may outweigh risk.6-14 The current literature has many weaknesses, including failure to specifically identify the indication for the cesarean myomectomy and lack of controlled prospective clinical trials. In almost all cases, cesarean myomectomy is performed after delivery of the fetus and placenta.

Continue to: The pedunculated, FIGO type 7 fibroid...


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