Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine the clinical role of fetal pulse oximetry to reduce cesarean delivery for a nonreassuring fetal heart rate tracing.
Study design: Singletons > or =28 weeks were randomized to fetal pulse oximetry plus electronic fetal heart rate monitoring (monitoring + fetal pulse oximetry) or monitoring alone.
Results: Overall, 360 women in labor were recruited: 150 cases with monitoring+fetal pulse oximetry and 177 cases with monitoring alone were analyzed. Most demographic, obstetric, and neonatal characteristics were similar. Specifically, the gestational age, cervical dilation, and station of the fetal head were not differential factors. In addition, cesarean delivery for nonreassuring fetal heart rate tracing was not different between the group with monitoring+fetal pulse oximetry (29%) and the group with monitoring alone (32%; relative risk, 0.95; 95% CI, 0.75, 1.22). Likewise, cesarean delivery for arrest disorder was similar between the group with monitoring+fetal pulse oximetry (22%) and the group with monitoring alone (23%; relative risk, 1.05; 95% CI, 0.79, 1.44). However, the decision-to-incision time was shorter for the group with monitoring+fetal pulse oximetry (17.8 +/- 8.2 min) than for the group with monitoring alone (27.7 +/- 13.9 min; P < .0001).
Conclusion: The use of fetal pulse oximetry with electronic fetal heart rate monitoring does not decrease the rate of cesarean delivery, although it does alter the decision-to-incision time.