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External Cephalic Version and Reducing the Incidence of Term Breech Presentation (Green-top Guideline No. 20a)

Summary: This guideline presents the best evidence concerning methods to prevent noncephalic presentation at delivery and therefore caesarean section and its sequalae. The mode and technique of delivering a breech presentation is summarised in the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Green-top Guideline No. 20b Management of Breech Presentation.

Breech presentation, which complicates 3–4% of term deliveries, occurs most frequently in nulliparous women. Breech presentation is also more common in preterm deliveries. The publication of the Term Breech Trial led to the significant decrease in the number of women undergoing vaginal breech birth. Planned vaginal breech birth remains rare in the UK as in many countries and thus attempts to prevent breech presentation are important.

COVID disclaimer: This guideline was developed as part of the regular updates to programme of Green-top Guidelines, as outlined in our document Developing a Green-top Guideline: Guidance for developers, and prior to the emergence of COVID-19.

Version history: This is the second edition of this guideline.

Please note that the RCOG Guidelines Committee regularly assesses the need to update the information provided in this publication. Further information on this review is available on request.

Developer declaration of interests:

Mr M Griffiths is a member of Doctors for a Woman's right to Choose on Abortion. He is an unpaid member of a Quality Standards Advisory Committee at NICE, for which he does receive expenses for related travel, accommodation and meals.

Mr LWM Impey is Director of Oxford Fetal Medicine Ltd. and a member of the International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology. He also holds patents related to ultrasound processing, which are of no relevance to the Breech guidelines.

Professor DJ Murphy provides medicolegal expert opinions in Scotland and Ireland for which she is remunerated.

Dr LK Penna: None declared.



This page was last reviewed 16 March 2017.