The role of mediolateral episiotomy during vacuum-assisted vaginal delivery with soft cup devices

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Purpose: This study evaluated whether episiotomy during vacuum-assisted delivery leads to fewer third- and fourth-degree tears. Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study of all nulliparas who underwent a singleton, soft cup, vacuum-assisted vaginal delivery in one institution, from January 2014 to August 2019. Failed vacuum deliveries were excluded. Based on power analysis calculation, a sample size of 500 women in each group was sufficient to detect an advantage of episiotomy, if present. Primary outcome was third- or fourth-degree perineal tear. Secondary outcomes were other maternal complications, and low neonatal cord pH and Apgar scores. Outcomes were compared between women with and without episiotomy. Results: During the study period, 2370 nulliparas had a vacuum-assisted vaginal delivery using soft vacuum cup and met the study inclusion criteria. Episiotomy was performed in 1868 (79%) women, and 502 (21%) delivered without episiotomy. Background characteristics were similar in both groups. There were no significant differences in the rates of third and fourth grade perineal lacerations between the two groups. Episiotomy was associated with higher rate of postpartum hemorrhage (p < 0.01) Conclusions: Using selective episiotomy for patients delivering vaginally with the assistance of soft cap vacuum does not increase third- or fourth-degree perineal tears.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)885-890
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of Gynecology and Obstetrics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Episiotomy
  • Nulliparous
  • Obstetric anal sphincter injury
  • Soft vacuum cup
  • Vacuum-assisted vaginal delivery


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