The association of skin incision placement during cesarean delivery with wound complications in obese women: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Rebekah J. Mccurdy, Laura A. Felder, Gabriele Saccone, Rodney K. Edwards, Loralei L. Thornburg, Caroline Marrs, Shayna N. Conner, Robert Strauss, Vincenzo Berghella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine the risk of wound complications by skin incision type in obese women undergoing cesarean delivery. Data sources: Electronic databases (MEDLINE, Scopus, and Ovid) were searched from their inception through August 2018. Methods of study selection: We included all randomized controlled trials and cohort studies reporting the placement of skin incision during cesarean section in obese women, defined as those with BMI ≥30 kg/m2. Studies were included if they compared one placement of skin incision with a different one as comparison group. The primary outcome was incidence of wound complications, while secondary outcomes included wound infection, hematoma, seroma, postpartum hemorrhage, and endometritis. Demographics and outcomes for each individual study identified were reported as part of the review. Meta-analysis was performed using the random effects model of DerSimonian and Laird, to produce summary treatment effects in terms of mean difference (MD) or relative risk (RR) with 95% confidence interval (CI). Sub-group analyses (vertical versus Pfannenstiel) were also reported. Tabulation, integration and results: Seventeen studies (including 3 RCTs; 8960 participants among the 15 non-overlapping studies) were included in the systematic review. Vertical incisions were associated with a relative risk of 2.07 (95% CI1.61–2.67) for wound complications compared to transverse incisions, however significant possible confounders were present. Studies were mildly-moderately heterogeneous (I 2 44.81%, 95% CI 0.00–71.85%) with varying definitions of obesity and wound complications. High transverse incisions (3 studies, 218 participants) trend toward a lower risk of wound complications compared to low transverse incisions (RR 0.338, 95% CI 0.114–1.004). Conclusions: Vertical incisions may be associated with an increased risk for wound complications compared to transverse incisions for cesarean delivery in obese women. Randomized controlled trials are needed to evaluate optimal cesarean skin incisions for these women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine
StatePublished - 2020


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