Open Access Open Badges Research article

Cesarean section in a high-parity community in Saudi Arabia: clinical indications and obstetric outcomes

Mohammed A Al Rowaily14, Fahad A Alsalem2 and Mostafa A Abolfotouh34*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Family Medicine and Primary Health Care, King Abdulaziz Medical City, National Guard Health Affairs, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, King Abdulaziz Medical City, National Guard Health Affairs, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

3 Biobanking Section, King Abdullah International Medical Research Center (KAIMRC), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

4 King Saud Bin-Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences (KSAU-HS), National Guard Health Affairs, POB 22490, Riyadh 11426, Saudi Arabia

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BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2014, 14:92  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-92

Published: 28 February 2014



The study of the indications for cesarean section (CS) and its outcomes are useful for hospitals, clinicians, and researchers in determining strategies to lower the primary and repeat CS rate. The aim of this study was to identify the indications for CS and the incidence of adverse maternal/fetal outcomes in a tertiary care setting.


A retrospective cohort study of women (n = 4305) who gave birth by CS at King Abdulaziz Medical City (KAMC), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (June 2008 to February 2011), was performed. All of the women’s medical records were reviewed by two consulting physicians to obtain the primary indications for CS and determine the maternal characteristics, type of CS (emergency or elective), and birth weight. All adverse maternal and fetal outcomes were recorded. The point and interval estimates of the odds ratios were calculated using a logistic regression model to identify the significant predictors of adverse maternal and/or fetal outcomes.


Of a total of 22,595 deliveries from 2008 to 2011, 4,305 deliveries were CS deliveries (19.05%). Two-thirds (67%) of all CS deliveries were emergency CSs, and the remaining deliveries were elective CSs (33%). Difficult labor (35.9%), fetal distress (21.9%) and breech presentation (11.6%) were the most frequent indications of emergency CS, while previous CS (54.3%), breech presentation (20.4%) and maternal request (10.1%) ranked first for elective CS. Adverse maternal and fetal outcomes were diagnosed in 5.09% and 5.06% of deliveries, respectively, with a significantly higher incidence in the emergency (6.06% & 5.51% respectively) than in elective CS (3.10 & 4.16% respectively). Blood transfusion was the most frequent adverse maternal outcome (3.72%), followed by ICU admission (0.63%), HELLP (0.51%), and hysterectomy (0.30%), while IUGR (3.25%) was the most frequent adverse fetal outcome, followed by IUFD and the need for ICU admission (0.58% each). Adverse maternal outcomes were significantly predicted by high gravidity (OR = 2.84, 95% CI:1.26-6.39, p = 0.011) and preeclampsia (OR = 2.84, 95%CI:1.83-4.39, p < 0.001), while adverse fetal outcomes were predicted by: twinning (OR = 1.81, p = 0.002), hydramnios (OR = 6.70, p < 0.001), and preeclampsia (OR = 2.74, p < 0.001). Preterm delivery was a significant predictor for both adverse maternal and fetal outcomes (OR = 2.39, p < 0.001 & OR = 4.57, p < 0.001, respectively).


Difficult labor and previous CS were the main indications for CS in Saudi Arabia. High gravidity was a significant predictor of adverse maternal outcomes. Encouraging Saudi women to consider embarking on fewer pregnancies could act as a safeguard against mandatory CSs for subsequent births in multigravida and grand-multigravida Saudi females. Future prospective study that addresses women with repeat CSs and their association with adverse maternal and fetal outcomes is recommended.

Cesarean section; Indications; Maternal/fetal; Outcomes; Near miss; Saudi Arabia