Extra-amniotic prostaglandin for induction of labour
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BACKGROUND: This is one of a series of reviews of methods of cervical ripening and labour induction using standardised methodology. OBJECTIVES: To determine the effects of extra-amniotic prostaglandin for third trimester cervical ripening or induction of labour. SEARCH STRATEGY: The Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group trials register, the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register and bibliographies of relevant papers. Date of last search: December 2000. SELECTION CRITERIA: (1) clinical trials comparing extra-amniotic prostaglandin used for third trimester cervical ripening or labour induction with placebo/no treatment or other methods listed above it on a predefined list of labour induction methods; (2) random allocation to the treatment or control group; (3) adequate allocation concealment; (4) violations of allocated management not sufficient to materially affect conclusions; (5) clinically meaningful outcome measures reported; (6) data available for analysis according to the random allocation; (7) missing data insufficient to materially affect the conclusions. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: A strategy has been developed to deal with the large volume and complexity of trial data relating to labour induction. This has involved a two-stage method of data extraction. The initial data were extracted centrally, and incorporated into a series of primary reviews arranged by methods of induction of labour, following a standardised methodology. MAIN RESULTS: Oxytocin was used to initiate or augment labour significantly less frequently with extra-amniotic prostaglandins when compared to placebo (relative risk 0.50, 95% confidence interval 0.38-0.66). No other findings were significant in the comparisons that were made for this review including when extra-amniotic prostaglandins were compared with other methods of cervical ripening or induction of labour. Although this could suggest that extra-amniotic prostaglandins are as effective as other agents, the findings are difficult to interpret because they are based on very small numbers and may lack the power to show a real difference. REVIEWER'S CONCLUSIONS: The studies in this review are limited by their small sample sizes which are in many cases further divided into multiple comparison groups. The analyses resulted in most comparisons showing no significant differences, with wide confidence intervals. Although extra-amniotic prostaglandins may be as effective as other modalities in initiating labour, there is little conclusive information from this review to guide clinical practice. An adequately powered randomised controlled trial would be useful to determine if the use of extra-amniotic prostaglandins would lower the rate of caesarean section. However, in the time since these studies were undertaken the use of extra-amniotic prostaglandins has largely been replaced by other modes of prostaglandin administration.
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