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Labor progress determined by ultrasound is different in women requiring cesarean delivery from those who experience a vaginal delivery following induction of labor

      Background

      The diagnosis of labor dystocia generally is determined by the deviation of labor progress, which is assessed by the use of a partogram. Recently, intrapartum transperineal ultrasound for the assessment of fetal head descent has been introduced to assess labor progress in the first stage of labor in a more objective and noninvasive way.

      Objective

      The objective of the study was to determine the differences in labor progress by the use of serial transperineal ultrasound assessment of fetal head descent between women having vaginal and cesarean delivery.

      Study Design

      This was a prospective longitudinal study performed in 315 women with singleton pregnancy who were undergoing labor induction at term between December 2016 and December 2017. Paired assessment of cervical dilation and fetal head station by vaginal examination and transperineal ultrasonographic assessment of parasagittal angle of progression and head-perineum distance were made serially after the commencement of labor induction. According to the hospital protocol, assessment was performed every 24 hours and 4 hours, respectively, during latent and active phases of labor. The researchers and the clinical team were blinded to each other’s findings. The repeated measures data were analyzed by mixed effect models. To determine the effect of mode of delivery on the association between parasagittal angle of progression and head-perineum distance against fetal head station and cervical dilation, the significance of the interaction term between each mode of delivery and fetal head station or cervical dilation was determined, which accounted for parity and obesity. Area under receiver-operating characteristic curve was used to evaluate the performance of serial intrapartum sonography in predicting women with cesarean delivery because of failure to progress.

      Results

      The total number of paired vaginal examination and ultrasound assessments was 1198, with a median of 3 per woman. The median assessment-to-assessment interval was 4.6 hours (interquartile range, 4.3–5.1 hours). Women who achieved vaginal delivery (n=261) had steeper slopes of parasagittal angle of progression and head-perineum distance against fetal head station and cervical dilation than those who achieved cesarean delivery (n=54). Objectively, an additional decrease of 5.11 and 1.37 degrees in parasagittal angle of progression was observed for an unit increase in fetal head station and cervical dilation, respectively, in women who required cesarean delivery (P<.01; P=.01), compared with women who achieved vaginal delivery, after taking account of repeated measures from individuals and confounding factors. The respective additional increases in head-perineum distance for a unit increase in fetal head station and cervical dilation were 0.27 cm (P<.01) and 0.12 cm (P<.01). A combination of maternal characteristics with the temporal changes of parasagittal angle of progression for an unit increase in fetal head station achieved an area under receiver-operating characteristic curve of 0.85 (95% confidence interval, 0.76–0.94), with sensitivity of 79% and specificity of 80%, for the prediction of women who required cesarean delivery because of failure to progress.

      Conclusion

      The differences in labor progress between vaginal and cesarean delivery have been illustrated objectively by serial intrapartum transperineal ultrasonographic assessment of fetal head descent. This tool is potentially predictive of women who will require cesarean delivery because of failure to progress.

      Key words

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