Objective: To examine the outcome of trial second labor after a first cesarean performed because of cephalopelvic disproportion, defined according to strict diagnostic criteria.
Methods: Obstetric details of nulliparous women delivering at 37 or more weeks' gestation by cesarean for cephalopelvic disproportion, between 1975 and 1990, were recorded prospectively. The diagnostic criteria for cephalopelvic disproportion were cervical dilation arrested after 5 cm, unresponsive to oxytocin augmentation, after active dilatation of 2 cm or more in 2 hours. Fetal malpresentations and malpositions were excluded. The outcome of next delivery in our hospital by each woman enrolled was then examined.
Results: Eighty-four of 42,793 women met the criteria for disproportion, and 40 with cephalic presentations delivered their next baby in our hospital. All 40 underwent a trial of labor and 27 (68%) delivered vaginally, comprising seven (47%) women with larger second and 20 (80%) with smaller second babies. Of 15 women previously delivered by cesarean at full dilatation, 11 (73%) delivered vaginally with no serious maternal or neonatal morbidity.
Conclusion: The strictly defined diagnosis of nulliparous cephalopelvic disproportion should not constitute an automatic "recurrent" indication for elective cesarean delivery, because 68% of patients in our series had successful vaginal deliveries in their next pregnancies. This rate is similar to those reported after all nulliparous cesareans for dystocia.