External cephalic version

Am Fam Physician. 1998 Sep 1;58(3):731-8, 742-4.


External cephalic version is a procedure that externally rotates the fetus from a breech presentation to a vertex presentation. External version has made a resurgence in the past 15 years because of a strong safety record and a success rate of about 65 percent. Before the resurgence of the use of external version, the only choices for breech delivery were cesarean section or a trial of labor. It is preferable to wait until term (37 weeks of gestation) before external version is attempted because of an increased success rate and avoidance of preterm delivery if complications arise. After the fetal head is gently disengaged, the fetus is manipulated by a forward roll or back flip. If unsuccessful, the version can be reattempted at a later time. The procedure should only be performed in a facility equipped for emergency cesarean section. The use of external cephalic version can produce considerable cost savings in the management of the breech fetus at term. It is a skill easily acquired by family physicians and should be a routine part of obstetric practice.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Breech Presentation
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Patient Selection
  • Pregnancy
  • Teaching Materials
  • Version, Fetal / methods*
  • Version, Fetal / standards