Predictive models of individual risk of elective caesarean section complications: a systematic review

Annes Ahmeidat* (Corresponding Author), Wiktoria Julia Kotts, Jeremy Wong, David J. McLernon, Mairead Black

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction With increasing caesarean section (c-section) rates, personalized communication of risk has become paramount. A reliable tool to predict complications would support evidence-based discussions around planned mode of birth. This systematic review aimed to identify, synthesize and quality appraise prognostic models of maternal complications of elective c-section. Methods MEDLINE, Embase, Web of Science, CINAHL and the Cochrane Library were searched on 27 January using terms relating to ‘c-section’, ‘prognostic models’ and complications such as ‘infection’. Any study developing and/or validating a prognostic model for a maternal complication of elective c-section in the English language after January 1995 was selected for analysis. Data were extracted using a predetermined checklist: source of data; participants; outcome to be predicted; candidate predictors; sample size; missing data; model development; model performance; model evaluation; results; and interpretation. Quality was assessed using the Prediction model Risk Of Bias ASsessment Tool (PROBAST) tool. Results In total, 7752 studies were identified; of these, 16 full papers were reviewed and three eligible studies were identified, containing three prognostic models derived from hospitals in Japan, South Africa and the UK. The models predicted risk of blood transfusion, spinal hypotension and postpartum haemorrhage. The study authors deemed their studies to be exploratory, exploratory and confirmatory, respectively. From the three studies, a total of 29 unique candidate predictors were identified, with 15 predictors in the final models. Maternal age (n = 3), previous c-section (n = 2), placenta praevia (n = 2) and pre-operative haemoglobin (n = 2) were found to be common predictors amongst the included studies. None of the studies were externally validated and all had a high risk of bias due to the analysis technique used. Conclusion Few models have been developed to predict complications of elective c-section. Existing models predicting blood transfusion, spinal hypotension and postpartum haemorrhage cannot be recommended for clinical practice. Future research should focus on identifying predictors known before surgery and validating the resulting models.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-255
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology
Early online date8 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Caesarean section
  • Complication
  • Prognostic model
  • Predictive model
  • Risk
  • Women’s health


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