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Medical Practice

Laparotomy during Pregnancy: An Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy and Fetal Wastage

Br Med J 1973; 3 doi: (Published 21 July 1973) Cite this as: Br Med J 1973;3:165
  1. Peter Saunders,
  2. P. J. D. Milton


    In a series of 48,482 pregnancies laparotomy was undertaken 74 times for conditions not associated with pregnancy (1 in 655 pregnancies). It showed no abnormality in 26 cases; ovarian cysts and acute appendicitis were the commonest pathological findings. The preoperative diagnosis was proved correct in 53% of cases, and in 66·2% laparotomy proved to be necessary for an alternative diagnosis.

    The fetal loss rate after surgery was 23%. Spontaneous abortion was more likely in the presence of peritonitis, with fluid in the peritoneal cavity, or when operative procedures involving the ovary were performed within the first trimester. The risk of precipitating labour following diagnostic laparotomy is negligible, provided no unnecessary surgical manœuvres are undertaken.

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