This prospective investigation evaluates the benefit of a beta-mimetic tocolytic for external cephalic version. From July 1, 1984 to May 15, 1987, 58 patients who had breech presentations between 37–41 weeks' gestation were considered for external cephalic version. The patients were randomly assigned to one of two groups: tocolytic or no tocolytic. An ultrasound examination, serum alphafetoprotein (AFP), Kleihauer-Betke test, and nonstress test (NST) were performed before and after the attempt at version. A version was not attempted if there was evidence of intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR), oligohydramnios, or a nonreactive NST. Patients in the tocolytic group received 200 μg/minute of ritodrine hydrochloride for 20 minutes via continuous intravenous infusion before a version was attempted. Twenty of the 30 patients (66.7%) in the tocolytic group and 19 of the 28 patients (67.8%) in the no-tocolytic group had successful versions, a nonsignificant difference. The nine patients with unsuccessful version attempts in the group without a tocolytic then received intravenous ritodrine and underwent a second attempt. Only one of these nine attempts was successful. There were no serious maternal or fetal complications associated with the attempts at version. In our patient population, use of a tocolytic did not significantly increase the probability of a successful version.
© 1987 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists