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The effect of intravenous hyoscine butylbromide on slow progress in labor (BUSCLAB): A double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial.

PLoS Medicine 2024 March 29
BACKGROUND: Prolonged labor is a common condition associated with maternal and perinatal complications. The standard treatment with oxytocin for augmentation of labor increases the risk of adverse outcomes. Hyoscine butylbromide is a spasmolytic drug with few side effects shown to shorten labor when used in a general population of laboring women. However, research on its effect on preventing prolonged labor is lacking. We aimed to assess the effect of hyoscine butylbromide on the duration of labor in nulliparous women showing early signs of slow labor.

METHODS AND FINDINGS: In this double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial, we included 249 nulliparous women at term with 1 fetus in cephalic presentation and spontaneous start of labor, showing early signs of prolonged labor by crossing the alert line of the World Health Organization (WHO) partograph. The trial was conducted at Oslo University Hospital in Norway from May 2019 to December 2021. One hundred and twenty-five participants were randomized to receive 1 ml hyoscine butylbromide (Buscopan) (20 mg/ml), while 124 received 1 ml sodium chloride intravenously. Randomization was computer-generated, with allocation concealment by opaque sequentially numbered sealed envelopes. The primary outcome was duration of labor from administration of the investigational medicinal product (IMP) to vaginal delivery, which was analyzed by Weibull regression to estimate the cause-specific hazard ratio (HR) of vaginal delivery between the 2 treatment groups, with associated 95% confidence interval (CI). A wide range of secondary maternal and perinatal outcomes were also evaluated. Time-to-event outcomes were analyzed by Weibull regression, whereas continuous and dichotomous outcomes were analyzed by median regression and logistic regression, respectively. All main analyses were based on the modified intention-to-treat (ITT) set of eligible women with signed informed consent receiving either of the 2 treatments. The follow-up period lasted during the postpartum hospital stay. All personnel, participants, and researchers were blinded to the treatment allocation. Median (mean) labor duration from IMP administration to vaginal delivery was 401 (440.8) min in the hyoscine butylbromide group versus 432.5 (453.6) min in the placebo group. We found no statistically significant association between IMP and duration of labor from IMP administration to vaginal delivery: cause-specific HR of 1.00 (95% CI [0.77, 1.29]; p = 0.993). Among 255 randomized women having received 1 dose of IMP, 169 women (66.3%) reported a mild adverse event: 75.2% in the hyoscine butylbromide group and 57.1% in the placebo group (Pearson's chi-square test: p = 0.002). More than half of eligible women were not included in the study because they did not wish to participate or were not included upon admission. The participants might have represented a selected group of women reducing the external validity of the study.

CONCLUSIONS: One intravenous dose of 20 mg hyoscine butylbromide was not found to be superior to placebo in preventing slow labor progress in a population of first-time mothers at risk of prolonged labor. Further research is warranted to answer whether increased and/or repeated doses of hyoscine butylbromide might have an effect on duration of labor.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT03961165) EudraCT (2018-002338-19).

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