External Cephalic Version: Is it an Effective and Safe Procedure?

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External cephalic version (ECV) is an effective procedure for reducing the number of cesarean sections. To date, there is no video publication showing the methodology of this procedure. The main objective is to show how to perform ECV with a specific protocol with tocolysis before the procedure and analgesia. Moreover, we describe and analyze the factors associated with successful ECV, and also compare to deliveries in the general pregnant population.

A retrospective and descriptive analysis of ECV carried out at the Hospital Clinico Universitario Virgen de la Arrixaca in Murcia (Spain) between 1/1/2014 and 12/31/2018 was assessed. The latest data available of labor deliveries in the local center, which is the biggest maternity department in Spain, were from 2018.

320 patients were recruited and 3 pregnant women were lost during the study. ECV was carried out at 37±3 weeks gestation. ECV was successful in 82.5% (N=264). 19 complications were reported (5.9%): 8 vaginal bleeding (2.5%), 9 fetal bradycardia (2.8%), 1 preterm rupture of membranes (0.3%) and 1 cord prolapse (0.3%). A previous vaginal delivery increases the success rate of ECV ORadjusted=3.03 (1.62-5.68). Maternal Body Mass Index (BMI) affects the success of ECV ORadjusted=0.94 (0.89-0.99). Patients with BMI>40 kg/m2 have an ORadjusted=0.09 (0.009-0.89) compared with those with BMI <25 kg/m2. If ECV was successful, the cesarean delivery index is 22.2% (17.5-27.6%), the eutocic delivery index is 52.1% (46.1-58.1%) and the instrumented vaginal delivery index is 25.7% (20.7-31.2%). There are no differences in cesarean and eutocic delivery indexes after successful ECV. However, a successful ECV is associated with a 6.29% increase in the instrumented delivery rate (OR=1.63).

ECV is an effective procedure to reduce the number of cesarean sections for breech presentations. Maternal BMI and previous vaginal delivery are associated with ECV success. Successful ECV does not modify the usual delivery pattern.