Cesarean delivery: A reconsideration of terminology

Vern L. Katz, Steven R. Wells, Jeffrey A. Kuller, Wendy F. Hansen, Michael J. McMahon, Watson A. Bowes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The terminology we employ influences our perceptions. Thus, we believe in reviewing terminology regularly. The term "cesarean section" should be abandoned. A medical procedure is rarely named after a historic figure, and almost never after an ancient Roman law. Cesarean section has recently been amended to cesarean birth; however, the term is still inadequate. The word "hysterotomy" more appropriately describes the procedure we regularly perform. The adjectives used to describe cesarean birth should also be reevaluated. If we are to keep the term "classical" for the original fundal vertical uterine incision, then the other designations of hysterotomy should retain the same architectural context. Contemporary hysterotomy should be used in reference to a low transverse cesarean. Neoclassical hysterotomy might be used to describe the low vertical procedure. Transitional hysterotomy may be an appropriate term for the "hockey stick" or "J" incision. Cesarean delivery best describes a postmortem cesarean. Vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) is inappropriate because a vaginal birth after a cesarean section would not occur if cesarean section refers to a perimortem procedure. Vaginal birth after hysterotomy should be substituted for VBAC. Such revision of our terminology will keep obstetrics at the forefront of medical science and bring us most efficiently into the 21st century.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-153
Number of pages2
JournalObstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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