The Association of Cesarean Skin Incision Length and Postoperative Wound Complications

Academic Article


  • Objective: This study was aimed to evaluate the relationship between cesarean skin incision length and wound complications. Study Design: Planned secondary analysis of a multicenter double-blind randomized trial of adjunctive azithromycin versus placebo (in addition to standard cefazolin) in women ≥24 weeks undergoing cesarean delivery during labor or ≥4 hours after membrane rupture. Skin incision length (cm) was measured just prior to skin closure. The primary outcome was a composite of wound complications (wound infection, separation, seroma, hematoma, or dehiscence) up to 6 weeks of postpartum. Individual components of the composite were examined as secondary outcomes. Outcomes were compared between groups defined by the lowest (≤25th), middle (25-75th) and highest (>75th) incision length quartiles. Logistic regression was used to adjust for potential confounding variables. Results: Of the 2,013 women enrolled in the primary trial, 1,916 had recorded incision lengths and were included in this secondary analysis. The overall rate of composite wound complications was 7.8%. Median incision length was 15.0 cm (interquartile range: 14.0-16.5) with the lowest quartile defined as ≤14, middle as >14 to ≤16.5, and highest as >16.5 cm. Mean BMI, parity, use of staples, and duration of surgery differed significantly between the three incision length groups. In unadjusted analysis, the longest incision lengths were associated with an increased risk of the wound composite and wound infections (odds ratio [OR] = 2.27, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.43-3.60 and OR = 2.30, 95% CI: 1.27-4.15, respectively) compared with the shortest incision lengths. However, after multivariable adjustments, these associations were nullified. Additional analyses considering incision length as a continuous variable and using 10th/90th percentile cut-offs still did not suggest any associations with outcomes. Conclusion: Increasing skin incision length is not independently associated with an increased risk of postoperative wound complications. Key Points After multivariable adjustments, skin incision length was not independently associated with an increased risk of postoperative wound complications. A reasonable incision length needed to safely perform the procedure should be used.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Subramaniam A; Jauk V; Saade G; Boggess K; Longo S; Clark EAS; Esplin S; Cleary K; Wapner R; Letson K
  • Start Page

  • 539
  • End Page

  • 545
  • Volume

  • 39
  • Issue

  • 5