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Caesarean section: From Antiquity to the Twenty-First Century 

Caesarean section: From Antiquity to the Twenty-First Century
Caesarean section: From Antiquity to the Twenty-First Century

Matthew J. West

, Laurie Montgomery Irvine

, and Eric Jauniaux

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date: 25 January 2021

The caesarean delivery is one of the oldest and best-established surgical procedures in medical history. This chapter reviews its development from its mythical origin to the modern day. The origins of the procedure are surrounded by myth and, historically, it was performed to save the infant, despite the presence of occasional references to operations on living mothers. In the eighteenth century, when modern surgery was born, the procedures performed were more anatomically orientated than they had been previously; however, it was only at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century that the mortality and morbidity of caesarean sections started to decrease, with the advent of uterine closure methods (1870s), the low segment uterine incision (1880s), and other, improved techniques to open the abdomen (1900s). Developments in anaesthesia, blood transfusion, and antibiotics have further contributed to declining mortality and morbidity rates over the last half-century.

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