Operative vaginal delivery and the use of episiotomy: a survey of practice in the United Kingdom and Ireland

Maureen Macleod, Deirdre J. Murphy

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    28 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Objective
    To establish the views and current practice of obstetricians with regard to operative vaginal delivery and the use of episiotomy.

    Study design
    A national survey of consultant obstetricians and specialist registrars practising in the United Kingdom and Ireland registered with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), London. A postal questionnaire was sent to all obstetricians with two subsequent reminders to non-responders. The choice of procedure for specific circumstances, instrument preference, use of episiotomy and views on the relationship between episiotomy use and anal sphincter tears at operative vaginal delivery were explored.

    Results
    The response rate was 80.4%. Instrument preference varied according to the fetal position and station and the grade of operator. Vacuum and forceps were both used for mid-cavity non-rotational deliveries (64% and 56% reported frequent use respectively). Rotational vacuum was preferred for a mid-cavity mal-position (69%) followed by equal numbers using rotational forceps or manual rotation and forceps (34% and 36%, respectively). Inexperienced operators were more likely to proceed directly to caesarean section (35%). A restrictive approach to use of episiotomy was preferred for vacuum delivery (72%) and a routine approach for forceps (73%). Obstetricians varied greatly in their perception of the relationship between episiotomy use and anal sphincter tears at operative vaginal delivery.

    Conclusion
    There is wide variation in the use of episiotomy at operative vaginal delivery with uncertainty about its role in preventing anal sphincter tears. A randomised controlled trial would address this important aspect of obstetric care.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)178-183
    Number of pages6
    JournalEuropean Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology
    Volume136
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2008

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