To assess clinical and sonographic fetal head position before induction of labor, position at delivery, and whether occiput posterior (OP) position is associated with adverse delivery outcome.
Abdominal palpation and ultrasonographic fetal head and spine position were determined at 36 weeks or more of gestation in 289 women immediately before induction of labor and the head position at delivery noted. Chi-square, Mann-Whitney U tests, and logistic regression were used to assess whether OP position was associated with cesarean delivery.
Ninety-seven (36%) of 270 women with full outcome data had an OP position on ultrasonography before induction of labor. Of these 97 women, eight (8%) were OP at delivery. Sixty-eight percent of the 25 OP positions at delivery occurred due to a mal-rotation from a non-OP position during labor. Logistic regression showed that OP position before induction of labor was not an independent predictor of cesarean delivery (odds ratio 1.75, 95% confidence interval 0.97-3.15, P=.06).
Two thirds of OP positions at delivery after induction of labor occur due to a mal-rotation in labor from a non-OP position. Ultrasonography is an easy method of assessing fetal head position before induction of labor. In clinical practice, its usefulness is limited by the fact that, contrary to conventional teaching, OP position before induction of labor does not appear to be associated with an increased risk of cesarean delivery.
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Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University College London Hospitals, London, United Kingdom. firstname.lastname@example.org