Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2006 Sep;195(3):749-54.

Operative vaginal delivery and midline episiotomy: a bad combination for the perineum.

Author information

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, USA.



The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of operative vaginal delivery (forceps or vacuum) and midline episiotomy on the risk of severe perineal trauma.


In this retrospective cohort study, we assessed the impact of maternal and obstetric factors on the risk of development of severe perineal trauma (third- and fourth-degree perineal lacerations) for all singleton, vertex vaginal live births (n = 33,842) between 1996 and 2003.


Among nulliparous women, 12.1% had operative vaginal delivery, 22.4% had midline episiotomy, and 8.1% experienced severe perineal trauma. Among multiparous women, 3.4% had operative vaginal delivery, 4.2% had midline episiotomy, and 1.2% experienced severe perineal trauma. Controlling for maternal age, ethnicity, birth weight and head circumference, evaluation of the interaction of episiotomy and delivery method revealed that forceps (nulliparous women: odds ratio [OR] 8.6, 95% CI 6.5-10.7; multiparous women: OR 26.3, 95% CI 18.1-34.5) and episiotomy (nulliparous women: OR 4.5, 95% CI 3.7-5.4; multiparous women: OR 14.6, 95% CI 10.4-20.5) were consistently associated with the increased risk of anal sphincter trauma. In fact, the magnitude of effect of the statistically significant synergistic interaction was evidenced by more than 3-fold excess of risk of using operative vaginal delivery alone.


The use of operative vaginal delivery, particularly in combination with midline episiotomy, was associated with a significant increase in the risk of anal sphincter trauma in both primigravid and multigravid women. Given the reported substantial long-term adverse consequences for anal function, this combination of operative modalities should be avoided if possible.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Support Center