There has been a certain degree of apathy regarding the performance of postmortem cesarean section for at least two reasons: 1. It is rarely successful. 2. It is usually a sad experience for both the attending physician and the surviving family. In addition, certain legal, moral, and religious considerations may deter rather than encourage the procedure.
Only 113 successful postmortem sections have been reported in the world literature of the last 250 years.1 This represents a small percentage of the total number attempted. For example, the Minnesota maternal mortality study2 reveals that only 14 postmortem sections were attempted in this state from 1950 to 1954, and none of the infants survived. Despite these statistics, we believe that if the fetus is of viable age it should not be left in utero at the time of the mother's death. If it is, the only possible mortality rate is 100%.