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J Kok, KH Tan, S Koh, PS Cheng, WY Lim, ML Yew, GSH Yeo
Correspondence: Dr Kelvin Tan Kok Hian, email@example.com
Introduction To study the use, safety and effectiveness of a novel antenatal vaginal birth training device (EPI-NO) in primiparous women.
Methods Antenatal use of the EPI-NO vaginal birth trainer was prospectively studied in 31 primiparous booked patients who were delivered by obstetricians from July to December 2002 at the KK Women's and Children's Hospital. This was studied in relation to episiotomy rate, perineal trauma and analgesic requirements during the postpartum period. A patient questionnaire form was used to assess their perception of pain and how well they coped with its use. For comparison, perineal trauma was also studied retrospectively in 60 consecutive obstetrician-booked primiparous term patients who had normal vaginal delivery (NVD) and who did not use EPI-NO during the same study period.
Results The mean length of usage was for 2.1 weeks (standard deviation [sd] 1.2 weeks). The mean frequency of use was 5.3 episodes per week (sd 2.1, range 1 to 7). There was no laceration and vaginal infection arising from its usage. There was a case of minimal bleeding post-usage. There were 20 (64.5 percent) NVDs, four (12.9 percent) forceps deliveries, five vacuum deliveries (16.1 percent) and two (6.5 percent) Caesarean sections. Of the 29 vaginal delivery cases, 19 (65.5 percent) had episiotomy, eight (27.6 percent) had lacerations, and two (6.9 percent) did not sustain laceration. The reasons for episiotomy in the 19 cases were nine cases of pending tearing of vagina/perineum, nine cases of instrumental vaginal deliveries, and one to shorten second stage. There was no third degree tear. 21 (67.7 percent) out of 30 required a painkiller. The majority of patients (17; 54.8 percent) appeared to be comfortable with the use of EPI-NO. All coped well with vaginal examination after using EPI-NO perineal training. Comparing among term primiparous NVD cases with (n value equals 20) and without (n value equals 60) EPI-NO, the perineal trauma rate (90.0 percent vs 96.6 percent, p value equals 0.24) was slightly but not significantly lower in the EPI-NO group. The episiotomy rate was significantly lower (50.0 percent vs 93.3 percent, p value is less than 0.0001) and the extent of perineal trauma in the patient appeared to be less severe in cases using EPI-NO.
Conclusion EPI-NO appeared to be safe and acceptable to the majority of users. Although birth training with EPI-NO significantly decreases the rate of episiotomies in term primiparous patients, and the degree of perineal tissue injury appeared to be less in the EPI-NO group especially among those with lacerations, the overall perineal trauma rate was slightly but not significantly lower, in view of the higher spontaneous laceration rate in the EPI-NO group.
Keywords: EPI-NO vaginal birth trainer, episiotomy, perineal tissue injury, perineal trauma, vaginal delivery
Singapore Med J 2004; 45(7): 318-323