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Minerva Ginecologica 2000 June;52(6):221-8


language: Italian

External cephalic version as a possible treatment of breech presentation

Giusti M., Bertolotti G. C., Nappi R. E., Fignon A., Zara C.


Background. Breech presentation shows 3-4% incidence on every foetal presentation at the time of delivery and is more correlated than vertex presentation to a foetal risk of perinatal mortality (with a frequency from 2 to 5 times higher) and to foetal malformations, low weight at birth and prematurity. On the other hand, without a careful case selection, breech delivery has a higher risk of perinatal morbidity and mortality in comparison to cephalic presentation. It is estimated that perinatal mortality for breech presentation at term is about 4-5% for vaginal delivery and about 2-4% for caesarean section. In addition caesarean section has a higher maternal morbidity and a small but significant risk of perinatal mortality, therefore, external cephalic version (ECV) can be a good choice to increase physiological deliveries. The aim of the present study is to evaluate the real efficacy of this obstetric manoeuvre to decrease the frequency of breech presentation at delivery.
Methods. The study group included 67 patients (age 29.5 ± 3.8) with foetal breech presentation at gestational age 35.8 ± 1.9 weeks, recruited at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the Pavia University. Every patient underwent ECV. The same physician has performed every ECV attempt using the forward roll technique, with previous tocolysis in 50 cases (rithodrine vs isoxsuprine). The following variables have been taken into consideration : amount of amniotic fluid, gestational age, kind of tocolysis, placental location, foetal back position, parity, breech variety and foetal adnexial complication at birth.
Results. ECV succeeded in 77.6% (n=52) and failed in 22.4% (n=15) of cases. No maternal or foetal complications, side effects and spontaneous breech version occurred and in 74.6% of cases (n=50) a vaginal delivery was performed. In 25.4% of cases (n=17) a caesarean section was performed (15 breech presentation, 1 foetal distress in labour and 1 cervical dystocia). Among variables examined related to successful ECV, it has been observed that the amount of amniotic fluid (x2 =15.33; p<0.0000), the kind of tocolysis (x2 =10.04; p<0.007) and the umbilical cord rounds (x2 =3.98; p<0.045) were distributed in a significantly different way, whereas gestational age (p<0.045) was significantly higher in unsuccessful ECV.
Conclusions. The results obtained suggest that ECV may be a good therapeutic approach for decreasing the percentage of breech presentation at delivery.

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