Objective: To evaluate the role of therapeutic amnioinfusion using a pediatric feeding tube in cases of intrapartum fetal distress.
Methods: A randomized clinical trial including 438 women admitted in labor at Assiut University Hospital with nonreassuring fetal heart rate tracing. Using sealed opaque envelopes, the women were randomized to 2 groups. In the amnioinfusion group they underwent transcervical amnioinfusion (1000 mL of warmed sterile saline solution) in addition to conventional treatment. In the control group they received conventional treatment only. The primary outcome was cesarean section rate for fetal distress. The secondary outcomes were neonatal and maternal complications.
Results: The amnioinfusion group showed a significant reduction in the rate of cesarean section for fetal distress (relative risk [RR], 0.7; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.6-0.83), and a 30% reduction in abnormal fetal heart rate patterns (RR, 0.7; 95% CI, 0.6-0.83). Significantly fewer newborns had Apgar scores less than 7 at 1 and 5 min in the amnioinfusion group than in the control group (RR, 0.38; 95% CI, 0.26-0.55 and RR, 0.31; 95% CI, 0.15-0.64, respectively). Significantly fewer newborns had meconium below the vocal cords in the amnioinfusion group than in the control group (RR, 0.36; 95% CI, 0.13-0.97). Moreover, 14 newborns in the amnioinfusion group needed admission to the intensive care unit vs. 31 newborns in the control group. There were no significant differences between the 2 groups regarding the incidence rates of uterine hypertonus and maternal temperature higher than 38 degrees C.
Conclusion: Therapeutic amnioinfusion is a simple and effective intervention that reduces the rates of cesarean section for intrapartum nonreassuring fetal heart tracing. In under-resourced settings, it can be performed using inexpensive catheters.