The fetal head evaluation during labor in the occiput posterior position: the ESA (evaluation by simulation algorithm) approach

J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2014 Jul;27(11):1151-7. doi: 10.3109/14767058.2013.851188. Epub 2013 Nov 7.


The determination of fetal head position can be useful in labor to predict the success of labor management, especially in case of malpositions. Malpositions are abnormal positions of the vertex of the fetal head and account for the large part of indication for cesarean sections for dystocic labor. The occiput posterior position occurs in 15-25% of patients before labor at term and, however, most occiput posterior presentations rotate during labor, so that the incidence of occiput posterior at vaginal birth is approximately 5-7%. Persistence of the occiput posterior position is associated with higher rate of interventions and with maternal and neonatal complications and the knowledge of the exact position of the fetal head is of paramount importance prior to any operative vaginal delivery, for both the safe positioning of the instrument that may be used (i.e. forceps versus vacuum) and for its successful outcome. Ultrasound (US) diagnosed occiput posterior position during labor can predict occiput posterior position at birth. By these evidences, the time requested for fetal head descent and the position in the birth canal, had an impact on the diagnosis of labor progression or arrested labor. To try to reduce this pitfalls, authors developed a new algorithm, applied to intrapartum US and based on suitable US pictures, that sets out, in detail, the quantitative evaluation, in degrees, of the occiput posterior position of the fetal head in the pelvis and the birth canal, respectively, in the first and second stage of labor. Authors tested this computer system in a settle of patients in labor.

Keywords: Delivery; fetal head progression; fetal presentation; intrapartum ultrasound; labor; malpositions; obstetric outcome; occiput posterior.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Algorithms*
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Delivery, Obstetric / methods*
  • Delivery, Obstetric / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Fetus
  • Head / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Labor Presentation*
  • Obstetric Labor Complications / diagnostic imaging*
  • Obstetric Labor Complications / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Trial of Labor
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal