Terbutaline pump maintenance therapy for prevention of preterm delivery: a double-blind trial

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1998 Oct;179(4):874-8. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9378(98)70181-4.


Objective: This study's aim was to determine whether maintenance therapy with terbutaline administered by pump prolongs gestation in women after treatment with intravenous magnesium sulfate tocolysis for suspected preterm labor.

Study design: Consenting women with a singleton gestation and intact membranes who had uterine contractions and >1 cm cervical dilation, 80% effacement, or progressive cervical change and whose contractions were successfully arrested with intravenous magnesium were randomly assigned to receive either terbutaline or normal saline solution placebo by subcutaneous infusion pump. Pump therapy was administered with a standardized protocol. Pump therapy was discontinued and parenteral magnesium was resumed if recurrent preterm labor developed while women were on the therapeutic regimen at <34 weeks' gestation and no contraindication for tocolysis existed. If recurrent labor was arrested, pump therapy was restarted according to the original treatment group. A sample size of 48 women was required to detect a 2-week intergroup difference in mean time to delivery. Analyses were based on intent to treat.

Results: Fifty-two women received terbutaline (n = 24) or placebo (n = 28). At random assignment the groups were similar with respect to age, race, parity, previous preterm delivery, gestational age, and cervical examination. Overall there was a 1-day difference in mean time to delivery between the groups (terbutaline 29 +/- 22 days and placebo 28 +/- 23 days, P = .78). There were no differences in the rates of preterm delivery at <34 and <37 weeks' gestation. Neonatal outcomes were similar.

Conclusions: Maintenance terbutaline therapy administered by pump does not prolong gestation in women successfully treated for suspected preterm labor.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infusion Pumps*
  • Obstetric Labor, Premature / prevention & control*
  • Placebos
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Terbutaline / administration & dosage*
  • Terbutaline / therapeutic use
  • Tocolytic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Tocolytic Agents / therapeutic use


  • Placebos
  • Tocolytic Agents
  • Terbutaline