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Obstet Gynecol. 1994 Feb;83(2):234-8.

High-dose oxytocin: 20- versus 40-minute dosage interval.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Wilford Hall United States Air Force Medical Center, Lackland AFB, Texas.



To determine whether an increase in the oxytocin dosing interval would decrease the incidence of uterine hyperstimulation.


This study included 1801 consecutive pregnancies receiving high-dose oxytocin. Oxytocin was used for labor augmentation in 1167 and induction in 634 women. Twenty- and 40-minute dosage intervals were compared. The study period was based on an 80% likelihood of detecting 5 and 10% differences in the cesarean and hyperstimulation rates, respectively. Statistics were analyzed with chi 2, Fisher, and Wilcoxon rank-sum tests where appropriate. Multivariate logistic regression and analysis of covariance were used to control for confounding demographic variables.


Comparison of the 20- and 40-minute regimens for labor induction yielded no differences in the rates of cesarean delivery for dystocia (16 versus 19%) or fetal distress (5 versus 6%). The 20-minute regimen for augmentation was associated with a significant reduction in cesarean for dystocia (8 versus 12%; P = .05). The incidence of uterine hyperstimulation was greater with the 20-minute than the 40-minute regimen for induction (40 versus 31%; P = .02), but not for augmentation (31 versus 28%). Neonatal outcomes were unaffected by the dosage interval for both augmentation and induction.


A 40-minute dosing interval for high-dose oxytocin offers no clear advantage over a 20-minute interval. Both regimens were safe and efficient, with no differences in perinatal outcome. The 20-minute interval was associated with fewer cesareans for dystocia when used for labor augmentation, whereas the 40-minute interval resulted in less hyperstimulation when used for labor induction.

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