External Cephalic Version

  • External Cephalic Version or ECV.
  • When the baby is breech (see Malpresentation ), it is not always safe to have a vaginal birth. There can occasionally be significant injury to the baby. There are several options to avoid this.
  • One option is to deliver via C-section. The other option is an attempt to physically turn the baby (ECV) so the head is going down the birth canal first.
  • Most babies that are breech before 34 weeks of gestation will turn to the correct presentation (head down) by the time they are 36 weeks.
  • Breech accounts for less than 3% of all deliveries by the 38 weeks.
  • If you baby is breech at the 35-36 week visit, your next OB appointment will be scheduled with an Obstetrician.

Procedure

  • ECV is performed after 37 weeks. At this gestational age, even if you go into labor after an ECV, the baby will typically do well.
  • The procedure can be done with or without anesthesia.
  • ECV is done in the operating room. A full staff that can perform a C-section is standing by.
  • The obstetrician will attempt to turn the baby so the head is in the pelvis.
  • After the procedure, you will return to the room to be monitored.
  • You will be discharged home when:
    • The affect of the spinal wears off.
    • Both you and the baby are stable.
    • This is usually 2-3 hours after the procedure.
  • If the ECV is successful, you will go home, keep your regularly scheduled OB appointments, and await labor.
  • If the ECV is not successful, your provider will schedule your C-section when you are 39 weeks.

Success Rate

  • The success rate for ECV depends on many factors.
  • Overall, the success rate is approximately 50%.
  • But, if you decide to not have an ECV, the chance of a C-section is nearly 100%.
  • Make sure to speak with an obstetrician in detail about the risks/benefits of an ECV versus a C-section.

William Beaumont
Army Medical Center

5005 N. Piedras St.
El Paso, Texas 79920
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Information Desk
915-742-2121

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