CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 · Geburtshilfe Frauenheilkd 2020; 80(10): 1041-1047
DOI: 10.1055/a-1127-8646
GebFra Science
Original Article/Originalarbeit

Current Approach for External Cephalic Version in Germany

Article in several languages: English | deutsch
Fabian Kohls
1  Klinik für Frauenheilkunde und Geburtshilfe, Asklepios Harzklinik Goslar, Goslar, Germany
Friederike Gebauer
2  Klinik für Frauenheilkunde und Geburtshilfe, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Hannover, Germany
Markus Flentje
3  Klinik für Klinik für Anästhesiologie und Intensivmedizin, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Hannover, Germany
Lars Brodowski
2  Klinik für Frauenheilkunde und Geburtshilfe, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Hannover, Germany
Constantin Sylvius von Kaisenberg
2  Klinik für Frauenheilkunde und Geburtshilfe, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Hannover, Germany
Matthias Jentschke
2  Klinik für Frauenheilkunde und Geburtshilfe, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Hannover, Germany
› Author Affiliations


Introduction Fetal breech presentation at terms occurs in 3 – 6% of pregnancies. External cephalic version can reduce the number of cesarean sections and vaginal breech deliveries. Different approaches are used to carry out external cephalic version. This study looked at the different approaches used in Germany and compared the approach used with the recommendations given in German and international guidelines.

Material and Methods An anonymized online survey of 234 hospitals in Germany was carried out in 2018. In addition to asking about hospital structures, questions also focused on how external version was carried out in practice (preparations, tocolysis, anesthetics, etc.), on relative and absolute contraindications and on the success rate.

Results 37.2% of the hospitals approached for the survey participated in the study. Of these, 98.8% performed external version procedures. The majority of participating hospitals were university hospitals (26.4%) and maximum care hospitals (35.6%) with an average number of more than 2000 births per year (60.9%). External cephalic version is the preferred (61.7%) obstetrical procedure to deal with breech presentation, rather than vaginal breech birth or primary cesarean section. 45.8% of respondents carry out external version procedures on an outpatient basis, and 42.1% of hospitals perform the procedure as an inpatient intervention, especially from the 37th week of gestation. Prior to performing an external version procedure, 21.6% of surveyed institutions carry out a vaginal examination to evaluate possible fixation of the fetal rump. 95.5% of institutions used fenoterol for tocolytic therapy; the majority using it for continuous tocolysis (70.2%). 1 – 3 attempts at external version (8.4%) were usually carried out by a specific senior physician. In most cases, no analgesics were administered. The reported rate of emergency cesarean sections was very low. The most common indication for emergency C-section was pathological CTG (56,7%). The assessment of relative and absolute contraindications varied, depending on the surveyed hospital. 67.5% asked patients to empty their bladders before carrying out external version, while 10.8% carried out external version when the bladder was filled. The reported success rate was more than 45%. After successful version, only 14.8% of hospitals arranged for patients to wear an abdominal binder. For 32.4%, the decision to apply an abdominal binder was taken on a case-by-case basis.

Conclusion The approach used in Germany to carry out external cephalic version is based on the (expired) German guideline on breech presentation. Based on the evidence obtained, a number of individual recommendations should be re-evaluated. More recent international guidelines could be useful to update the standard procedure.

Supporting Information

Publication History

Received: 15 June 2020

Accepted after revision: 02 August 2020

Publication Date:
25 September 2020 (online)

© 2020. The Author(s). This is an open access article published by Thieme under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonDerivative-NonCommercial License, permitting copying and reproduction so long as the original work is given appropriate credit. Contents may not be used for commecial purposes, or adapted, remixed, transformed or built upon. (

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