Hong Kong Med J 2013;19:251–7 | Number 3, June 2013
Optimal delivery for preterm breech fetuses: is there any consensus?
William WK To
Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, United Christian Hospital, Kwun Tong, Kowloon, Hong Kong
The optimal route for delivery of preterm breech-presenting fetuses remains a clinical dilemma. Available data from the literature are largely based on retrospective cohort studies, and randomised controlled trials are considered impossible to conduct. Consistently however, large population-based surveys have shown that planned caesarean sections for these fetuses were associated with better neonatal outcomes compared with those following vaginal delivery. Nevertheless, the increased surgical risks for the mother having caesarean delivery of an early preterm breech fetus must be balanced with the probable neonatal survival benefits. Planned caesarean section should probably be limited to gestations with at least a fair chance of independent neonatal survival, where vaginal delivery is not imminent, and in the absence of other maternal risk factors. Vaginal delivery would probably include those fetuses that are of marginal viability, and that additional protection from abdominal delivery was unlikely to be beneficial to neonatal outcome.
Key words: Cesarean section; Obstetric labor, premature
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