External cephalic version at 36 weeks and its outcome

Deepika N., Arun Kumar


Background: External cephalic version (ECV) is well known non-invasive procedure done for the management of breech presentation but is not routinely practised by obstetricians in many clinical settings. The aim of the study was to assess the success rate of external cephalic version, labour outcome of pregnancy after successful ECV, to study maternal and foetal complications associated with ECV and to explore the reasons for failed ECV.

Methods: It was a prospective interventional study to assess the labour outcomes of pregnancies with successful and uncomplicated ECV. All women who had singleton breech presentation at 36+ weeks were included unless contraindications for ECV were present. After obtaining consent, ECV was attempted after giving tocolysis.

Results: The total number of deliveries was 6038 in the same period. Out of these 301 were breech presentations thus the incidence of breech presentation was 4.9%. ECV was offered to 81 women (26.9%) and out of these 77 women (95.06%) gave consent for the procedure. The remaining 4 (4.93%) did not give consent due to anxiety about the procedure. The success rate was 54.54%. Out of total 301 women with breech presentation 40 women (13.3%) had assisted breech delivery and 216 women (71.8%) had caesarean section due to obstetric indications. Thus the caesarean section rate for breech presentation at our institute was 71.8%. ECV was successful in 63.82% of the multigravida on which it was attempted as compared to 40% of the primigravida. The success rate of ECV in the present study is maximum when ECV was performed at a gestational age of 38-39 weeks and when fetal weight was less than 3000 grams. Out of the 42 successful ECV cases, 4 babies (9.52%) had neonatal sepsis and 1 was still born (2.3%) which was unrelated to ECV.

Conclusions: ECV is a valuable though under used option in the management of breech presentation at term. It is a relatively safe procedure, simple to learn and perform. Vigilance for breech presentation after 36 weeks is important. ECV at term using tocolytics should be part of the routine management of breech presentation.


Breech, Caesarean section, External cephalic version, Tocolysis

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