External cephalic version after previous cesarean section: A cohort study of 100 consecutive attempts

Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2018 Dec:231:210-213. doi: 10.1016/j.ejogrb.2018.10.036. Epub 2018 Oct 22.


Objective: External cephalic version is commonly not performed in women with a previous cesarean section. Fear of uterine rupture and cesarean section in labor are prominent. The risks, however, of these are unclear. This study aims to document the safety and efficacy of external cephalic version in women with a prior cesarean section in a series of 100 consecutive attempts, and to perform a literature of the existing literature.

Study design: This is a retrospective cohort study of prospectively collected data of external cephalic version attempts in women at term with a previous cesarean section, and a literature review of previously published series. External cephalic version was performed by one of 3 experienced operators, with salbutamol tocolysis if appropriate, using ultrasound to visualize the fetal heart and place of fetal parts.

Results: 100 women with a prior cesarean section underwent external cephalic version over a 16-year period in one institution. 68% had no previous vaginal delivery. The external cephalic version success rate was 50%, and 30 (63.8%) of these subsequently delivered vaginally. There were no cases of uterine rupture or other complications. A literature review of series containing a total of 549 cases revealed no cases of uterine rupture or perinatal death.

Conclusions: External cephalic version in women with a prior cesarean section is safe but enables a vaginal birth in only about a third of women.

Keywords: Breech; Cesarean; External cephalic version; VBAC.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breech Presentation*
  • Cesarean Section / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, High-Risk
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Version, Fetal / adverse effects*