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OBJECTIVE: To investigate the relation between the use of mediolateral episiotomy and the occurrence of severe (third degree) perineal tears in hospital deliveries in the Netherlands. DESIGN: An observational study. SUBJECTS: Data were derived from the Dutch National Obstetric Database (LVR) of 1990, from which 43,309 spontaneous, occipito-anterior, vaginal deliveries of live, singleton infants were investigated. INTERVENTION: Medio-lateral episiotomy. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: The occurrence of severe perineal tears. RESULTS: The severe tear rate was 1.4% in the total study group. Using multiple logistic regression to control for possible confounding variables, the use of mediolateral episiotomy was found to be associated with a more than fourfold decrease in risk of severe lacerations (odds ratio 0.22, 95% CI 0.17 to 0.29). Further, in a logistic model deliveries in hospitals with restrictive use of episiotomy (< 11%) were compared with those in hospitals with liberal use of episiotomy (> 50%). Liberal use of episiotomy was not associated with a lower frequency of severe perineal tears. CONCLUSION: Although a protective effect of mediolateral episiotomy on the occurrence of severe lacerations was found, liberal use of mediolateral episiotomy should be discouraged on the basis of our findings.


Journal article


Br J Obstet Gynaecol

Publication Date





1064 - 1067


Episiotomy, Female, Humans, Netherlands, Obstetric Labor Complications, Odds Ratio, Perineum, Pregnancy, Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic, Risk Factors