Vaginal preparation with antiseptic solution before cesarean section for preventing postoperative infections

David M Haas, Sarah Morgan, Karenrose Contreras
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2014 December 21, (12): CD007892

BACKGROUND: Cesarean delivery is one of the most common surgical procedures performed by obstetricians. Infectious morbidity after cesarean delivery can have a tremendous impact on the postpartum woman's return to normal function and her ability to care for her baby. Despite the widespread use of prophylactic antibiotics, postoperative infectious morbidity still complicates cesarean deliveries.

OBJECTIVES: To determine if cleansing the vagina with an antiseptic solution before a cesarean delivery decreases the risk of maternal infectious morbidities, including endometritis and wound complications.

SEARCH METHODS: We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (10 December 2014).

SELECTION CRITERIA: We included randomized and quasi-randomized trials assessing the impact of vaginal cleansing immediately before cesarean delivery with any type of antiseptic solution versus a placebo solution/standard of care on post-cesarean infectious morbidity.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: We independently assessed eligibility and quality of the studies.

MAIN RESULTS: Seven trials randomizing 2816 women (2635 analyzed) evaluated the effects of vaginal cleansing (all with povidone-iodine) on post-cesarean infectious morbidity. The risk of bias was generally low, with the quality of most of the studies being high. Vaginal preparation immediately before cesarean delivery significantly reduced the incidence of post-cesarean endometritis from 8.3% in control groups to 4.3% in vaginal cleansing groups (average risk ratio (RR) 0.45, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.25 to 0.81, seven trials, 2635 women). The risk reduction was particularly strong for women who were already in labor at the time of the cesarean delivery (7.4% in the vaginal cleansing group versus 13.0% in the control group; RR 0.56, 95% CI 0.34 to 0.95, three trials, 523 women) and for women with ruptured membranes (4.3% in the vaginal cleansing group versus 17.9% in the control group; RR 0.24, 95% CI 0.10 to 0.55, three trials, 272 women). No other outcomes realized statistically significant differences between the vaginal cleansing and control groups. No adverse effects were reported with the povidone-iodine vaginal cleansing.The quality of the evidence using GRADE was low for post-cesarean endometritis, moderate for postoperative fever, and low for wound infection.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Vaginal preparation with povidone-iodine solution immediately before cesarean delivery reduces the risk of postoperative endometritis. This benefit is particularly realized for women undergoing cesarean delivery, who are already in labor or who have ruptured membranes. As a simple, generally inexpensive intervention, providers should consider implementing preoperative vaginal cleansing with povidone-iodine before performing cesarean deliveries.

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