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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004;(3):CD004455.

Antibiotic prophylaxis for operative vaginal delivery.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Faculty of Medicine, Prince of Songkla University, Hat Yai, Songkhla, Thailand, 90110.

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Vacuum and forceps assisted vaginal deliveries are reported to increase the incidence of postpartum infections and maternal readmission to hospital compared to spontaneous vaginal delivery. Prophylactic antibiotics are prescribed to prevent these infections. However, the benefit of antibiotic prophylaxis for operative vaginal deliveries is still unclear.


To assess the effectiveness and safety of antibiotic prophylaxis in reducing infectious puerperal morbidities in women undergoing operative vaginal deliveries including vacuum and/or forceps deliveries.


We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group trials register (November 2003), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (The Cochrane Library, Issue 4, 2003) and MEDLINE (1966 to November 2003).


All randomised trials comparing any prophylactic antibiotic regimens with placebo or no treatment in women undergoing vacuum or forceps deliveries were eligible. Participants were all pregnant women without evidence of infections or other indications for antibiotics of any gestational age undergoing vacuum or forceps delivery for any indications. Interventions were any antibiotic prophylaxis (any dosage regimen, any route of administration or at any time during delivery or the puerperium) compared with either placebo or no treatment.


Four reviewers assessed trial eligibility and methodological quality. Two reviewers extracted the data independently using prepared data extraction forms. Any discrepancies were resolved by discussion and a consensus reached through discussion with all reviewers. We assessed methodological quality of the included trial using the standard Cochrane criteria and the CONSORT statement of randomised controlled trials. We calculated the relative risks using a fixed effect model and all the reviewers interpreted and discussed the results.


One trial, involving 393 women undergoing either vacuum or forceps deliveries, was included. This trial identified only two out of the nine outcomes specified in this review. It reported seven women with endomyometritis in the group given no antibiotic and none in prophylactic antibiotic group. This difference did not reach statistical significance, but the relative risk reduction was 93% (relative risks 0.07; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.00 to 1.21). There was no difference in the length of hospital stay between the two groups (weighted mean difference 0.09 days; 95% CI -0.23 to 0.41).


The data were too few and of insufficient quality to make any recommendations for practice. Future research on antibiotic prophylaxis for operative vaginal delivery is needed to conclude whether it is useful for reducing postpartum morbidity.

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