External cephalic version-related risks: a meta-analysis

Obstet Gynecol. 2008 Nov;112(5):1143-51. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e31818b4ade.


Objective: To systematically review the literature on external cephalic version-related complications and to assess if the outcome of a version attempt is related to complications.

Data sources: In March 2007 we searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials.

Methods of study selection: Studies reporting on complications from an external cephalic version attempt for singleton breech pregnancies after 36 weeks of pregnancy were selected. We calculated odds ratios (ORs) from studies that reported both on complications as well as on the position of the fetus immediately after the procedure.

Tabulation, integration, and results: We found 84 studies, reporting on 12,955 version attempts that reported on external cephalic version-related complications. The pooled complication rate was 6.1% (95% CI 4.7-7.8), 0.24% for serious complications (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.17-0.34) and 0.35% for emergency cesarean deliveries (95% CI 0.26-0.47). Complications were not related to external cephalic version outcome (OR 1.2 (95% CI 0.93-1.7).

Conclusion: External cephalic version is a safe procedure. Complications are not related to the fetal position after external cephalic version.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Breech Presentation / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Version, Fetal / adverse effects*