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An observational study of the success and complications of 2546 external cephalic versions in low-risk pregnant women performed by trained midwives

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Author: Beuckens, A. · Rijnders, M. · Verburgt-Doeleman, G.H.M. · Rijninks-van Driel, G.C. · Thorpe, J. · Huttom, E.K.
Source:BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 3, 123, 415-423
Identifier: 531422
doi: DOI:10.1111/1471-0528.13234
Keywords: Health · Breech presentation · Caesarean section · External cephalic version · Healthy for Life · Healthy Living · Life · CH - Child Health · ELSS - Earth, Life and Social Sciences


Objective To evaluate the success of an external cephalic version (ECV) training programme, and to determine the rates of successful ECV, complications, and caesarean birth in a low-risk population. Design Prospective observational study. Setting Primary health care and hospital settings throughout the Netherlands (January 2008–September 2011). Population Low-risk women with a singleton fetus in breech presentation, without contraindications to ECV, were offered ECV at approximately 36 weeks of gestation. Methods Data were collected for all ECVs performed by midwives, and were entered into a national online database. Main measures Successful ECV was defined as the fetus having a cephalic presentation immediately following the procedure and at birth. Complications were observed at ≤30 minutes and between 30 minutes and 48 hours after the ECV procedure. All serious pregnancy outcomes that occurred after the ECV procedure until birth were reported. Results A total of 47% had a successful ECv and a cephalic at the time of birth: 34% of nulliparous and 66% of multiparous women. After ECV, 57% of women gave birth vaginally: 45% of nulliparous women and 76% of multiparous women. Within 30 minutes after ECV, and between 30 minutes and 48 hours after ECV, the proportion of women experiencing a complication or serious pregnancy outcome was 0.9% and 1.8%, respectively. Serious pregnancy outcome at any time following ECV until birth was experienced by 58 (2.5%) of the women. Conclusions The success rate of ECVs performed by trained midwives in primary health care or hospital settings is comparable with that of other providers, and the procedure is safe for low-risk women.