Vaginal prostaglandin (PGE2 and PGF2a) for induction of labour at term

Anthony J Kelly, Sidra Malik, Lee Smith, Josephine Kavanagh, Jane Thomas
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2009 October 7, (4): CD003101

BACKGROUND: Prostaglandins have been used for induction of labour since the 1960s. Initial work focused on prostaglandin F2a as prostaglandin E2 was considered unsuitable for a number of reasons. With the development of alternative routes of administration, comparisons were made between various formulations of vaginal prostaglandins.

OBJECTIVES: To determine the effects of vaginal prostaglandins E2 and F2a for third trimester cervical ripening or induction of labour in comparison with placebo/no treatment or other vaginal prostaglandins (except misoprostol).

SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (May 2009) and bibliographies of relevant papers.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Clinical trials comparing vaginal prostaglandins 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.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: We assessed studies and extracted data independently.

MAIN RESULTS: Sixty-three (10,441 women) have been included.Vaginal prostaglandin E2 compared with placebo or no treatment reduced the likelihood of vaginal delivery not being achieved within 24 hours (18.1% versus 98.9%, risk ratio (RR) 0.19, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.14 to 0.25, two trials, 384 women). The risk of the cervix remaining unfavourable or unchanged was reduced (21.6% versus 40.3%, RR 0.46, 95% CI 0.35 to 0.62, five trials, 467 women); and the risk of oxytocin augmentation reduced (35.1% versus 43.8%, RR 0.83, 95% CI 0.73 to 0.94, 12 trials, 1321 women) when PGE2 was compared to placebo. There was no evidence of a difference between caesarean section rates, although the risk of uterine hyperstimulation with fetal heart rate changes was increased (4.4% versus 0.49%, RR 4.14, 95% CI 1.93 to 8.90, 14 trials, 1259 women).PGE2 tablet, gel and pessary appear to be as efficacious as each other and the use of sustained release PGE2 inserts appear to be associated with a reduction in instrumental vaginal delivery rates (9.9 % versus 19.5%, RR 0.51, 95% CI 0.35 to 0.76, NNT 10 (6.7 to 24.0), five trials, 661 women) when compared to vaginal PGE2 gel or tablet.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: PGE2 increases successful vaginal delivery rates in 24 hours and cervical favourability with no increase in operative delivery rates. Sustained release vaginal PGE2 is superior to vaginal PGE2 gel with respect to some outcomes studied.Further research is needed to assess the best vehicle for delivering vaginal prostaglandins and this should, where possible, include some examination of the cost-analysis.

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