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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2002 Nov;187(5):1194-8.

Risk factors associated with anal sphincter tear: a comparison of primiparous patients, vaginal births after cesarean deliveries, and patients with previous vaginal delivery.

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  • 1Division of Medical and Surgical Gynecology, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 35249-7333, USA.



This study was conducted to identify obstetric risk factors for anal sphincter tear in primiparous patients, patients with a previous cesarean delivery (VBAC), and patients with a previous vaginal delivery (PVD).


An obstetrics automated record system was accessed to retrospectively review records of all singleton vaginal deliveries at greater than 36 weeks' gestation (excluding breech and stillbirth) from 1995 through 2000 (n = 10,928). A number of potential risk factors for anal sphincter tear (third- and fourth-degree episiotomy extensions and lacerations) were tested with use of multivariate logistic regression analysis.


The risk of anal sphincter tear was significantly increased with primiparity (relative risk [RR] 4.08) and VBAC (RR 5.46) compared with PVD, birth weight greater than 4000 g (RR 2.41), forceps delivery (RR 6.00), vacuum delivery (RR 2.18), shoulder dystocia (RR 3.28), and episiotomy (RR 2.59).


Efforts to prevent anal sphincter tear might include reconsideration of modifiable risk factors such as episiotomy, operative vaginal delivery, and VBAC.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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