Background/Aims: Abdominal disorders occurring during pregnancy pose special difficulties in diagnosis and management to the obstetrician and surgeon. The advisability of nonobstetric abdominal surgery during pregnancy is uncertain. Our objective was to evaluate the safety and timing of abdominal surgery during pregnancy. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed 77 consecutive gravid patients undergoing nonobstetric abdominal surgery from 1989 to 1996 at an urban academic medical center and a large affiliated community teaching hospital. Medical records were evaluated for clinical presentation, perioperative management, preterm labor, and maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality. Results: The rate of nonobstetric abdominal surgery during pregnancy was 1 in every 527 births. Among the 77 patients, the indications for surgery were adnexal mass (42%), acute appendicitis (21%), gallstone disease (17%) and other (21%). There was no maternal or fetal loss or identifiable neonatal birth defect. Preterm labor occurred in 26% of the second-trimester patients and 82% of the third-trimester patients. Preterm labor was most common in patients with appendicitis and after adnexal surgery. Preterm delivery occurred in 16% of the patients, but appeared to be directly related to the abdominal surgery in only 5%. Conclusion: Surgery during the first or second trimester is not associated with significant preterm labor, fetal loss or risk of teratogenicity. Surgery during the third trimester is associated with preterm labor, but not fetal loss.

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