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Isthmocele: an overview of diagnosis and treatment

Thaysa Guglieri Kremer Isadora Bueloni Ghiorzi Raquel Papandreus Dibi About the authors


An isthmocele, a cesarean scar defect or uterine niche, is any indentation representing myometrial discontinuity or a triangular anechoic defect in the anterior uterine wall, with the base communicating to the uterine cavity, at the site of a previous cesarean section scar. It can be classified as a small or large defect, depending on the wall thickness of the myometrial deficiency. Although usually asymptomatic, its primary symptom is abnormal or postmenstrual bleeding, and chronic pelvic pain may also occur. Infertility, placenta accrete or praevia, scar dehiscence, uterine rupture, and cesarean scar ectopic pregnancy may also appear as complications of this condition. The risk factors of isthmocele proven to date include retroflexed uterus and multiple cesarean sections. Nevertheless, factors such as a lower position of cesarean section, incomplete closure of the hysterotomy, early adhesions of the uterine wall and a genetic predisposition may also contribute to the development of a niche. As there are no definitive criteria for diagnosing an isthmocele, several imaging methods can be used to assess the integrity of the uterine wall and thus diagnose an isthmocele. However, transvaginal ultrasound and saline infusion sonohysterography emerge as specific, sensitive and cost-effective methods to diagnose isthmocele. The treatment includes clinical or surgical management, depending on the size of the defect, the presence of symptoms, the presence of secondary infertility and plans of childbearing. Surgical management includes minimally invasive approaches with sparing techniques such as hysteroscopic, laparoscopic or transvaginal procedures according to the defect size.

cesarean section; hysteroscopy; laparoscopy; uterine bleeding

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