Hong Kong Med J 2006;12:94-8 | Number 2, April 2006
The practice of episiotomy in public hospitals in Hong Kong
KW Lam, HS Wong, TC Pun
Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Hong Kong, Queen Mary Hospital, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong
OBJECTIVE. To review the use of episiotomy during vaginal delivery in Hong Kong public hospitals.
DESIGN. Prospective observational survey.
SETTING. Public hospitals, Hong Kong.
PARTICIPANTS. Women who underwent normal vaginal delivery of a singleton foetus with cephalic presentation.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES. Number of women having an episiotomy, severe-degree (third- or fourth-degree) tear, other types of tear, blood loss at delivery, postpartum haemorrhage, need for blood transfusion, puerperal pyrexia, wound infection, gaping wound that required suture removal, and drainage or resuturing of a perineal wound.
RESULTS. Between 1 January and 31 March 2003, there were 6222 singleton spontaneous normal vaginal deliveries in the public hospitals of Hong Kong. Of the 6167 women in whom the status of the perineum was known, episiotomy was performed in 5274 (85.5%). Primiparous women were more likely to undergo episiotomy at delivery than multiparous women (97.9% vs 71.4%). Women with episiotomy had significantly less perineal tearing of any kind than those without. The occurrence of any type of perineal tear and severe-degree (third- or fourth-degree) tear was significantly lower in primiparous women who had an episiotomy than those without (P
CONCLUSIONS. In Hong Kong, episiotomy is routinely performed during normal vaginal delivery. It is associated with a significantly lower overall rate of perineal tearing. This study was observational, nonetheless the occurrence of other complications was likely to increase when episiotomy was performed. Firm evidence from several randomised controlled studies shows that routine episiotomy is unjustified and possibly harmful. Routine episiotomy should not be promoted in Hong Kong without further randomised controlled study.
Key words: Delivery, obstetric; Episiotomy; Parity; Perineum/injuries; Pregnancy
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