cesarean section

cesarean section

Surgical removal of a fetus from the uterus through an abdominal incision at or before full term.

It is usually performed when vaginal delivery would endanger the life or health of the mother or the child. Vaginal delivery is often possible in subsequent pregnancies. Cesarean section carries the usual risks of major surgery. Once overused, largely for fear of malpractice suits, its use has been greatly reduced by the natural childbirth movement.

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cesarean also spelled  Caesarian,  

      surgical removal of a fetus, at or before full term, from the uterus through an abdominal incision. Little is known of either the origin of the term or the history of the procedure. According to ancient sources, the procedure takes its name from a branch of the ancient Roman family of the Julii, whose cognomen Caesar (Latin caedere, “to cut”) originated from a birth by this means; some modern historians doubt that this is true.

      The first documented cesarean section on a living woman was performed in 1610; she died 25 days after the surgery. Abdominal delivery was subsequently tried in many ways and under many conditions, but it almost invariably resulted in the death of the mother from sepsis or hemorrhage. Even in the first half of the 19th century, the recorded mortality was about 75 percent, and fetal craniotomy—in which the life of the child is sacrificed to save that of the mother—was usually preferred. Eventually, however, improvements in surgical techniques, antibiotics, and blood transfusion and antiseptic procedures so reduced the mortality that cesarean section came to be frequently performed as an alternative to normal childbirth.

      In modern obstetrical care, cesarean section usually is performed when the life of either the mother or the child would be endangered by attempting normal delivery. The medical decision is based on physical examination, special tests, and patient history. The examination includes consideration of any diseases the mother may have had in the past and disorders that may have arisen because of pregnancy. Special tests that might be performed include fetal scalp blood analysis and fetal heart-rate monitoring. Common indications for cesarean section include obstructed labour, failure of labour to progress, placenta praevia (development of the placenta in an abnormally low position near the cervix), fetal distress, diabetes, and improper positioning of the fetus for delivery. In addition, cesarean section is often used if the birth canal is too small for normal delivery. Sometimes when a woman has had a child by cesarean section, any children born after the first cesarean section are also delivered by that method; but vaginal delivery is often possible.

      The risks of cesarean section are low but real. The operation constitutes major surgery, and, compared to the risks of normal vaginal delivery, it is more dangerous for the mother. The risk of other complications—such as infection, hemorrhage, blood clots, and injury to the bladder or intestines—is also greater. If the baby is delivered by cesarean section planned in advance of labour, the infant can be premature. It has also been suggested that elective cesarean section may rob the infant of hormones and other substances released by the mother during labour.

      By the late 20th century, the incidence of cesarean sections in the United States had risen dramatically, largely as a result of an increase in the number of malpractice suits brought against obstetricians for failing to operate if there was the slightest indication of trouble in delivery.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • cesarean section — n. (Surg.), the operation of taking a child from the womb by cutting through the walls of the abdomen and uterus; so called because Julius C[ae]sar is reported to have been brought into the world by such an operation; called also {caesarean}. Syn …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • cesarean section — cesarean UK [sɪˈzeərɪən] / US [sɪˈzerɪən] or cesarean section UK / US noun [countable] Word forms cesarean : singular cesarean plural cesareans medical mainly American a caesarean …   English dictionary

  • cesarean section — n surgical incision of the walls of the abdomen and uterus for delivery of offspring * * * incision through the abdominal and uterine walls for delivery of a fetus. Called also abdominal delivery. Cesarean section. (A), Classic; (B), low… …   Medical dictionary

  • cesarean (section) — [sə zer′ē ən] n. 〚from the ancient story (by assoc. of the name Caesar with L caedere: see CAESAR2 (Gaius) Julius(Gaius) Julius) that Caesar or an ancestor had been born in this manner〛 a surgical operation for deliver …   Universalium

  • cesarean (section) — [sə zer′ē ən] n. [from the ancient story (by assoc. of the name Caesar with L caedere: see CAESAR2 (Gaius) Julius(Gaius) Julius) that Caesar or an ancestor had been born in this manner] a surgical operation for delivering a baby by cutting… …   English World dictionary

  • cesarean section — noun the delivery of a fetus by surgical incision through the abdominal wall and uterus (from the belief that Julius Caesar was born that way) • Syn: ↑cesarean delivery, ↑caesarean delivery, ↑caesarian delivery, ↑cesarian section, ↑caesarean… …   Useful english dictionary

  • cesarean section — /səˌzɛəriən ˈsɛkʃən/ (say suh.zairreeuhn sekshuhn) noun → caesarean section. Also, cesarian section …   Australian English dictionary

  • cesarean section — or caesarean section noun Usage: often capitalized C Etymology: from the legendary association of such a delivery with the Roman cognomen Caesar Date: 1615 surgical incision of the walls of the abdomen and uterus for delivery of offspring …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • cesarean section — (Roget s 3 Superthesaurus) n. C section, surgical birth, surgical delivery, incision …   English dictionary for students

  • Cesarean section — n. surgical removal of a fetus from a woman s uterus (when natural vaginal childbirth is not possible) …   English contemporary dictionary

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