Surgical management of severe obstetric hemorrhage: experience with an obstetric hemorrhage equipment tray

Thomas F Baskett
Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada: JOGC 2004, 26 (9): 805-8

BACKGROUND: Hemorrhage remains a leading cause of severe maternal morbidity and death. In addition to the appropriate use of oxytocic agents for uterine atony, surgical techniques, including uterine tamponade, major vessel ligation, compression sutures, and hysterectomy, may be required. On the rare occasions they are needed, the instruments and equipment required for these surgical techniques may not be readily available.

OBJECTIVE: To record our experience with an obstetric hemorrhage equipment tray for surgical management of severe obstetric hemorrhage.

METHODS: A severe obstetric hemorrhage equipment tray was established and included packing (5-yard roll) and balloon device for uterine tamponade, straight (10 cm) eyed-needles and large curved eyed-needles for use with No. 1 suture, 3 Heaney vaginal retractors, 4 sponge forceps, and diagrams and instructions for the various types of compression sutures and tamponade techniques.

RESULTS: Of the 4400 deliveries that occurred at 1 tertiary maternity hospital during 2002, the obstetric hemorrhage tray was used on 9 occasions: 3 Caesarean sections with placenta previa (uterine tamponade used in 2 cases, compression sutures in 1); 2 Caesarean sections with uterine atony (compression sutures); 1 Caesarean section with placenta previa accreta (major vessel ligation and compression sutures); and 3 vaginal deliveries (suturing of cervical and vaginal lacerations in 2 of the cases, uterine tamponade used in the third case). In all cases, hysterectomy was avoided.

CONCLUSION: The ready availability of an obstetric hemorrhage equipment tray on the labour ward facilitates prompt surgical management of severe obstetric hemorrhage, and may reduce the need for blood transfusion and hysterectomy.

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