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J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2009 Dec;22(12):1116-21. doi: 10.3109/14767050902994820.

Is the policy of restrictive episiotomy generalisable? A prospective observational study.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Prince of Wales Hospital, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong, China SAR.



To assess whether the policy of restrictive episiotomy could be safely implemented in Chinese population, and whether perineal length was related to risk of perineal tear during spontaneous vaginal delivery.


A prospective observational study was conducted between November 2007 and February 2008. A restrictive approach of episiotomy was implemented in those Chinese women who carried an uncomplicated singleton cephalic presenting pregnancy in labour. Perineal length (PL) was measured at three time points: (A) at early first stage of labour; (B) at the beginning of the second stage; (C) at crowning. Women with and without perineal tears were compared with reference to PL measured at different stages and its stretching performance (defined by the change in PL between different stages).


Among the 429 women recruited, mean PL at point A, B and C was 38.8 mm (+/-7.9), 49.4 mm (+/-8.1) and 59.4 mm (+/-9.4), respectively, which were similar to those reported in other countries. Episiotomy rate reduced from 73.3 to 26.8%. Among the non-episiotomy group, 13.7% had no perineal tear, 86.3% had minor (first or second degree) tears but none had major tears, whilst 3.5% and 0.9% of episiotomy group had minor and major tears, respectively. PL was not associated with the risk of perineal tear.


Restrictive episiotomy reduces the episiotomy rate without compromising the perineal safety. Chinese women's PL is not shorter than other races, or is predictive of perineal tears.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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