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StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-.

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StatPearls [Internet].

Delivery, face and brow presentation.

Julija Makajeva ; Mohsina Ashraf .

Affiliations

Last Update: January 9, 2023 .

  • Continuing Education Activity

Face and brow presentation is a malpresentation during labor when the presenting part is either the face or, in the case of brow presentation, it is the area between the orbital ridge and the anterior fontanelle. This activity reviews the evaluation and management of these two presentations and explains the role of the interprofessional team in managing delivery safely for both the mother and the baby.

  • Describe the mechanism of labor in the face and brow presentation.
  • Summarize potential maternal and fetal complications during the face and brow presentations.
  • Review different management approaches for the face and brow presentation.
  • Outline some interprofessional strategies that will improve patient outcomes in delivery cases with face and brow presentation issues.
  • Introduction

The term presentation describes the leading part of the fetus or the anatomical structure closest to the maternal pelvic inlet during labor. The presentation can roughly be divided into the following classifications: cephalic, breech, shoulder, and compound. Cephalic presentation is the most common and can be further subclassified as vertex, sinciput, brow, face, and chin. The most common presentation in term labor is the vertex, where the fetal neck is flexed to the chin, minimizing the head circumference.

Face presentation – an abnormal form of cephalic presentation where the presenting part is mentum. This typically occurs because of hyperextension of the neck and the occiput touching the fetal back. Incidence of face presentation is rare, accounting for approximately 1 in 600 of all presentations. [1] [2] [3]

In brow presentation, the neck is not extended as much as in face presentation, and the leading part is the area between the anterior fontanelle and the orbital ridges. Brow presentation is considered the rarest of all malpresentation with a prevalence of 1 in 500 to 1 in 4000 deliveries. [3]

Both face and brow presentations occur due to extension of the fetal neck instead of flexion; therefore, conditions that would lead to hyperextension or prevent flexion of the fetal neck can all contribute to face or brow presentation. These risk factors may be related to either the mother or the fetus. Maternal risk factors are preterm delivery, contracted maternal pelvis, platypelloid pelvis, multiparity, previous cesarean section, black race. Fetal risk factors include anencephaly, multiple loops of cord around the neck, masses of the neck, macrosomia, polyhydramnios. [2] [4] [5]

These malpresentations are usually diagnosed during the second stage of labor when performing a digital examination. It is possible to palpate orbital ridges, nose, malar eminences, mentum, mouth, gums, and chin in face presentation. Based on the position of the chin, face presentation can be further divided into mentum anterior, posterior, or transverse. In brow presentation, anterior fontanelle and face can be palpated except for the mouth and the chin. Brow presentation can then be further described based on the position of the anterior fontanelle as frontal anterior, posterior, or transverse.

Diagnosing the exact presentation can be challenging, and face presentation may be misdiagnosed as frank breech. To avoid any confusion, a bedside ultrasound scan can be performed. [6]  The ultrasound imaging can show a reduced angle between the occiput and the spine or, the chin is separated from the chest. However, ultrasound does not provide much predicting value in the outcome of the labor. [7]

  • Anatomy and Physiology

Before discussing the mechanism of labor in the face or brow presentation, it is crucial to highlight some anatomical landmarks and their measurements. 

Planes and Diameters of the Pelvis

The three most important planes in the female pelvis are the pelvic inlet, mid pelvis, and pelvic outlet. 

Four diameters can describe the pelvic inlet: anteroposterior, transverse, and two obliques. Furthermore, based on the different landmarks on the pelvic inlet, there are three different anteroposterior diameters, named conjugates: true conjugate, obstetrical conjugate, and diagonal conjugate. Only the latter can be measured directly during the obstetric examination. The shortest of these three diameters is obstetrical conjugate, which measures approximately 10.5 cm and is a distance between the sacral promontory and 1 cm below the upper border of the symphysis pubis. This measurement is clinically significant as the fetal head must pass through this diameter during the engagement phase. The transverse diameter measures about 13.5cm and is the widest distance between the innominate line on both sides. 

The shortest distance in the mid pelvis is the interspinous diameter and usually is only about 10 cm. 

Fetal Skull Diameters

There are six distinguished longitudinal fetal skull diameters:

  • Suboccipito-bregmatic: from the center of anterior fontanelle (bregma) to the occipital protuberance, measuring 9.5 cm. This is the presenting diameter in vertex presentation. 
  • Suboccipito-frontal: from the anterior part of bregma to the occipital protuberance, measuring 10 cm 
  • Occipito-frontal: from the root of the nose to the most prominent part of the occiput, measuring 11.5cm
  • Submento-bregmatic: from the center of the bregma to the angle of the mandible, measuring 9.5 cm. This is the presenting diameter in face presentation where the neck is hyperextended. 
  • Submento-vertical: from the midpoint between fontanelles and the angle of the mandible, measuring 11.5cm 
  • Occipito-mental: from the midpoint between fontanelles and the tip of the chin, measuring 13.5 cm. It is the presenting diameter in brow presentation. 

Cardinal Movements of Normal Labor

  • Neck flexion
  • Internal rotation
  • Extension (delivers head)
  • External rotation (Restitution)
  • Expulsion (delivery of anterior and posterior shoulders)

Some of the key movements are not possible in the face or brow presentations.  

Based on the information provided above, it is obvious that labor will be arrested in brow presentation unless it spontaneously changes to face or vertex, as the occipito-mental diameter of the fetal head is significantly wider than the smallest diameter of the female pelvis. Face presentation can, however, be delivered vaginally, and further mechanisms of face delivery will be explained in later sections.

  • Indications

As mentioned previously, spontaneous vaginal delivery can be successful in face presentation. However, the main indication for vaginal delivery in such circumstances would be a maternal choice. It is crucial to have a thorough conversation with a mother, explaining the risks and benefits of vaginal delivery with face presentation and a cesarean section. Informed consent and creating a rapport with the mother is an essential aspect of safe and successful labor.

  • Contraindications

Vaginal delivery of face presentation is contraindicated if the mentum is lying posteriorly or is in a transverse position. In such a scenario, the fetal brow is pressing against the maternal symphysis pubis, and the short fetal neck, which is already maximally extended, cannot span the surface of the maternal sacrum. In this position, the diameter of the head is larger than the maternal pelvis, and it cannot descend through the birth canal. Therefore the cesarean section is recommended as the safest mode of delivery for mentum posterior face presentations. 

Attempts to manually convert face presentation to vertex, manual or forceps rotation of the persistent posterior chin to anterior are contraindicated as they can be dangerous.

Persistent brow presentation itself is a contraindication for vaginal delivery unless the fetus is significantly small or the maternal pelvis is large.

Continuous electronic fetal heart rate monitoring is recommended for face and brow presentations, as heart rate abnormalities are common in these scenarios. One study found that only 14% of the cases with face presentation had no abnormal traces on the cardiotocograph. [8] It is advised to use external transducer devices to prevent damage to the eyes. When internal monitoring is inevitable, it is suggested to place monitoring devices on bony parts carefully. 

People who are usually involved in the delivery of face/ brow presentation are:

  • Experienced midwife, preferably looking after laboring woman 1:1
  • Senior obstetrician 
  • Neonatal team - in case of need for resuscitation 
  • Anesthetic team - to provide necessary pain control (e.g., epidural)
  • Theatre team  - in case of failure to progress and an emergency cesarean section will be required.
  • Preparation

No specific preparation is required for face or brow presentation. However, it is essential to discuss the labor options with the mother and birthing partner and inform members of the neonatal, anesthetic, and theatre co-ordinating teams.

  • Technique or Treatment

Mechanism of Labor in Face Presentation

During contractions, the pressure exerted by the fundus of the uterus on the fetus and pressure of amniotic fluid initiate descent. During this descent, the fetal neck extends instead of flexing. The internal rotation determines the outcome of delivery, if the fetal chin rotates posteriorly, vaginal delivery would not be possible, and cesarean section is permitted. The approach towards mentum-posterior delivery should be individualized, as the cases are rare. Expectant management is acceptable in multiparous women with small fetuses, as a spontaneous mentum-anterior rotation can occur. However, there should be a low threshold for cesarean section in primigravida women or women with large fetuses.

When the fetal chin is rotated towards maternal symphysis pubis as described as mentum-anterior; in these cases further descend through the vaginal canal continues with approximately 73% cases deliver spontaneously. [9] Fetal mentum presses on the maternal symphysis pubis, and the head is delivered by flexion. The occiput is pointing towards the maternal back, and external rotation happens. Shoulders are delivered in the same manner as in vertex delivery.

Mechanism of Labor in Brow Presentation

As this presentation is considered unstable, it is usually converted into a face or an occiput presentation. Due to the cephalic diameter being wider than the maternal pelvis, the fetal head cannot engage; thus, brow delivery cannot take place. Unless the fetus is small or the pelvis is very wide, the prognosis for vaginal delivery is poor. With persistent brow presentation, a cesarean section is required for safe delivery.

  • Complications

As the cesarean section is becoming a more accessible mode of delivery in malpresentations, the incidence of maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality during face presentation has dropped significantly. [10]

However, there are still some complications associated with the nature of labor in face presentation. Due to the fetal head position, it is more challenging for the head to engage in the birth canal and descend, resulting in prolonged labor.

Prolonged labor itself can provoke foetal distress and arrhythmias. If the labor arrests or signs of fetal distress appear on CTG, the recommended next step in management is an emergency cesarean section, which in itself carries a myriad of operative and post-operative complications.

Finally, due to the nature of the fetal position and prolonged duration of labor in face presentation, neonates develop significant edema of the skull and face. Swelling of the fetal airway may also be present, resulting in respiratory distress after birth and possible intubation.

  • Clinical Significance

During vertex presentation, the fetal head flexes, bringing the chin to the chest, forming the smallest possible fetal head diameter, measuring approximately 9.5cm. With face and brow presentation, the neck hyperextends, resulting in greater cephalic diameters. As a result, the fetal head will engage later, and labor will progress more slowly. Failure to progress in labor is also more common in both presentations compared to vertex presentation.

Furthermore, when the fetal chin is in a posterior position, this prevents further flexion of the fetal neck, as browns are pressing on the symphysis pubis. As a result, descend through the birth canal is impossible. Such presentation is considered undeliverable vaginally and requires an emergency cesarean section.

Manual attempts to change face presentation to vertex, manual or forceps rotation to mentum anterior are considered dangerous and are discouraged.

  • Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes

A multidisciplinary team of healthcare experts supports the woman and her child during labor and the perinatal period. For a face or brow presentation to be appropriately diagnosed, an experienced midwife and obstetrician must be involved in the vaginal examination and labor monitoring. As fetal anomalies, such as anencephaly or goiter, can contribute to face presentation, sonographers experienced in antenatal scanning should also be involved in the care. It is advised to inform the anesthetic and neonatal teams in advance of the possible need for emergency cesarean section and resuscitation of the neonate. [11] [12]

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Disclosure: Julija Makajeva declares no relevant financial relationships with ineligible companies.

Disclosure: Mohsina Ashraf declares no relevant financial relationships with ineligible companies.

This book is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/ ), which permits others to distribute the work, provided that the article is not altered or used commercially. You are not required to obtain permission to distribute this article, provided that you credit the author and journal.

  • Cite this Page Makajeva J, Ashraf M. Delivery, Face and Brow Presentation. [Updated 2023 Jan 9]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-.

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  • Review Sonographic evaluation of the fetal head position and attitude during labor. [Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2022] Review Sonographic evaluation of the fetal head position and attitude during labor. Ghi T, Dall'Asta A. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2022 Jul 6; . Epub 2022 Jul 6.
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INTRODUCTION

Diagnosis and management of face and brow presentations will be reviewed here. Other cephalic malpresentations are discussed separately. (See "Occiput posterior position" and "Occiput transverse position" .)

Prevalence  —  Face and brow presentation are uncommon. Their prevalences compared with other types of malpresentations are shown below [ 1-9 ]:

● Occiput posterior – 1/19 deliveries

● Breech – 1/33 deliveries

presenting diameter in brow presentation

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Delivery, Face and Brow Presentation

Introduction.

The term presentation describes the leading part of the fetus or the anatomical structure closest to the maternal pelvic inlet during labor. The presentation can roughly be divided into the following classifications: cephalic, breech, shoulder, and compound. Cephalic presentation is the most common and can be further subclassified as vertex, sinciput, brow, face, and chin. The most common presentation in term labor is the vertex, where the fetal neck is flexed to the chin, minimizing the head circumference.

Face presentation – an abnormal form of cephalic presentation where the presenting part is mentum. This typically occurs because of hyperextension of the neck and the occiput touching the fetal back. Incidence of face presentation is rare, accounting for approximately 1 in 600 of all presentations. [1] [2] [3]

In brow presentation, the neck is not extended as much as in face presentation, and the leading part is the area between the anterior fontanelle and the orbital ridges. Brow presentation is considered the rarest of all malpresentation with a prevalence of 1 in 500 to 1 in 4000 deliveries. [3]

Both face and brow presentations occur due to extension of the fetal neck instead of flexion; therefore, conditions that would lead to hyperextension or prevent flexion of the fetal neck can all contribute to face or brow presentation. These risk factors may be related to either the mother or the fetus. Maternal risk factors are preterm delivery, contracted maternal pelvis, platypelloid pelvis, multiparity, previous cesarean section, black race. Fetal risk factors include anencephaly, multiple loops of cord around the neck, masses of the neck, macrosomia, polyhydramnios. [2] [4] [5]

These malpresentations are usually diagnosed during the second stage of labor when performing a digital examination. It is possible to palpate orbital ridges, nose, malar eminences, mentum, mouth, gums, and chin in face presentation. Based on the position of the chin, face presentation can be further divided into mentum anterior, posterior, or transverse. In brow presentation, anterior fontanelle and face can be palpated except for the mouth and the chin. Brow presentation can then be further described based on the position of the anterior fontanelle as frontal anterior, posterior, or transverse.

Diagnosing the exact presentation can be challenging, and face presentation may be misdiagnosed as frank breech. To avoid any confusion, a bedside ultrasound scan can be performed. [6]  The ultrasound imaging can show a reduced angle between the occiput and the spine or, the chin is separated from the chest. However, ultrasound does not provide much predicting value in the outcome of the labor. [7]

Anatomy and Physiology

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Before discussing the mechanism of labor in the face or brow presentation, it is crucial to highlight some anatomical landmarks and their measurements. 

Planes and Diameters of the Pelvis

The three most important planes in the female pelvis are the pelvic inlet, mid pelvis, and pelvic outlet. 

Four diameters can describe the pelvic inlet: anteroposterior, transverse, and two obliques. Furthermore, based on the different landmarks on the pelvic inlet, there are three different anteroposterior diameters, named conjugates: true conjugate, obstetrical conjugate, and diagonal conjugate. Only the latter can be measured directly during the obstetric examination. The shortest of these three diameters is obstetrical conjugate, which measures approximately 10.5 cm and is a distance between the sacral promontory and 1 cm below the upper border of the symphysis pubis. This measurement is clinically significant as the fetal head must pass through this diameter during the engagement phase. The transverse diameter measures about 13.5cm and is the widest distance between the innominate line on both sides. 

The shortest distance in the mid pelvis is the interspinous diameter and usually is only about 10 cm. 

Fetal Skull Diameters

There are six distinguished longitudinal fetal skull diameters:

  • Suboccipito-bregmatic: from the center of anterior fontanelle (bregma) to the occipital protuberance, measuring 9.5 cm. This is the presenting diameter in vertex presentation. 
  • Suboccipito-frontal: from the anterior part of bregma to the occipital protuberance, measuring 10 cm 
  • Occipito-frontal: from the root of the nose to the most prominent part of the occiput, measuring 11.5cm
  • Submento-bregmatic: from the center of the bregma to the angle of the mandible, measuring 9.5 cm. This is the presenting diameter in face presentation where the neck is hyperextended. 
  • Submento-vertical: from the midpoint between fontanelles and the angle of the mandible, measuring 11.5cm 
  • Occipito-mental: from the midpoint between fontanelles and the tip of the chin, measuring 13.5 cm. It is the presenting diameter in brow presentation. 

Cardinal Movements of Normal Labor

  • Neck flexion
  • Internal rotation
  • Extension (delivers head)
  • External rotation (Restitution)
  • Expulsion (delivery of anterior and posterior shoulders)

Some of the key movements are not possible in the face or brow presentations.  

Based on the information provided above, it is obvious that labor will be arrested in brow presentation unless it spontaneously changes to face or vertex, as the occipito-mental diameter of the fetal head is significantly wider than the smallest diameter of the female pelvis. Face presentation can, however, be delivered vaginally, and further mechanisms of face delivery will be explained in later sections.

Indications

As mentioned previously, spontaneous vaginal delivery can be successful in face presentation. However, the main indication for vaginal delivery in such circumstances would be a maternal choice. It is crucial to have a thorough conversation with a mother, explaining the risks and benefits of vaginal delivery with face presentation and a cesarean section. Informed consent and creating a rapport with the mother is an essential aspect of safe and successful labor.

Contraindications

Vaginal delivery of face presentation is contraindicated if the mentum is lying posteriorly or is in a transverse position. In such a scenario, the fetal brow is pressing against the maternal symphysis pubis, and the short fetal neck, which is already maximally extended, cannot span the surface of the maternal sacrum. In this position, the diameter of the head is larger than the maternal pelvis, and it cannot descend through the birth canal. Therefore the cesarean section is recommended as the safest mode of delivery for mentum posterior face presentations. 

Attempts to manually convert face presentation to vertex, manual or forceps rotation of the persistent posterior chin to anterior are contraindicated as they can be dangerous.

Persistent brow presentation itself is a contraindication for vaginal delivery unless the fetus is significantly small or the maternal pelvis is large.

Continuous electronic fetal heart rate monitoring is recommended for face and brow presentations, as heart rate abnormalities are common in these scenarios. One study found that only 14% of the cases with face presentation had no abnormal traces on the cardiotocograph. [8] It is advised to use external transducer devices to prevent damage to the eyes. When internal monitoring is inevitable, it is suggested to place monitoring devices on bony parts carefully. 

People who are usually involved in the delivery of face/ brow presentation are:

  • Experienced midwife, preferably looking after laboring woman 1:1
  • Senior obstetrician 
  • Neonatal team - in case of need for resuscitation 
  • Anesthetic team - to provide necessary pain control (e.g., epidural)
  • Theatre team  - in case of failure to progress and an emergency cesarean section will be required.

Preparation

No specific preparation is required for face or brow presentation. However, it is essential to discuss the labor options with the mother and birthing partner and inform members of the neonatal, anesthetic, and theatre co-ordinating teams.

Technique or Treatment

Mechanism of Labor in Face Presentation

During contractions, the pressure exerted by the fundus of the uterus on the fetus and pressure of amniotic fluid initiate descent. During this descent, the fetal neck extends instead of flexing. The internal rotation determines the outcome of delivery, if the fetal chin rotates posteriorly, vaginal delivery would not be possible, and cesarean section is permitted. The approach towards mentum-posterior delivery should be individualized, as the cases are rare. Expectant management is acceptable in multiparous women with small fetuses, as a spontaneous mentum-anterior rotation can occur. However, there should be a low threshold for cesarean section in primigravida women or women with large fetuses.

When the fetal chin is rotated towards maternal symphysis pubis as described as mentum-anterior; in these cases further descend through the vaginal canal continues with approximately 73% cases deliver spontaneously. [9] Fetal mentum presses on the maternal symphysis pubis, and the head is delivered by flexion. The occiput is pointing towards the maternal back, and external rotation happens. Shoulders are delivered in the same manner as in vertex delivery.

Mechanism of Labor in Brow Presentation

As this presentation is considered unstable, it is usually converted into a face or an occiput presentation. Due to the cephalic diameter being wider than the maternal pelvis, the fetal head cannot engage; thus, brow delivery cannot take place. Unless the fetus is small or the pelvis is very wide, the prognosis for vaginal delivery is poor. With persistent brow presentation, a cesarean section is required for safe delivery.

Complications

As the cesarean section is becoming a more accessible mode of delivery in malpresentations, the incidence of maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality during face presentation has dropped significantly. [10]

However, there are still some complications associated with the nature of labor in face presentation. Due to the fetal head position, it is more challenging for the head to engage in the birth canal and descend, resulting in prolonged labor.

Prolonged labor itself can provoke foetal distress and arrhythmias. If the labor arrests or signs of fetal distress appear on CTG, the recommended next step in management is an emergency cesarean section, which in itself carries a myriad of operative and post-operative complications.

Finally, due to the nature of the fetal position and prolonged duration of labor in face presentation, neonates develop significant edema of the skull and face. Swelling of the fetal airway may also be present, resulting in respiratory distress after birth and possible intubation.

Clinical Significance

During vertex presentation, the fetal head flexes, bringing the chin to the chest, forming the smallest possible fetal head diameter, measuring approximately 9.5cm. With face and brow presentation, the neck hyperextends, resulting in greater cephalic diameters. As a result, the fetal head will engage later, and labor will progress more slowly. Failure to progress in labor is also more common in both presentations compared to vertex presentation.

Furthermore, when the fetal chin is in a posterior position, this prevents further flexion of the fetal neck, as browns are pressing on the symphysis pubis. As a result, descend through the birth canal is impossible. Such presentation is considered undeliverable vaginally and requires an emergency cesarean section.

Manual attempts to change face presentation to vertex, manual or forceps rotation to mentum anterior are considered dangerous and are discouraged.

Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes

A multidisciplinary team of healthcare experts supports the woman and her child during labor and the perinatal period. For a face or brow presentation to be appropriately diagnosed, an experienced midwife and obstetrician must be involved in the vaginal examination and labor monitoring. As fetal anomalies, such as anencephaly or goiter, can contribute to face presentation, sonographers experienced in antenatal scanning should also be involved in the care. It is advised to inform the anesthetic and neonatal teams in advance of the possible need for emergency cesarean section and resuscitation of the neonate. [11] [12]

Gardberg M,Leonova Y,Laakkonen E, Malpresentations--impact on mode of delivery. Acta obstetricia et gynecologica Scandinavica. 2011 May;     [PubMed PMID: 21501123]

Tapisiz OL,Aytan H,Altinbas SK,Arman F,Tuncay G,Besli M,Mollamahmutoglu L,Danışman N, Face presentation at term: a forgotten issue. The journal of obstetrics and gynaecology research. 2014 Jun;     [PubMed PMID: 24888918]

Zayed F,Amarin Z,Obeidat B,Obeidat N,Alchalabi H,Lataifeh I, Face and brow presentation in northern Jordan, over a decade of experience. Archives of gynecology and obstetrics. 2008 Nov;     [PubMed PMID: 18283473]

Bashiri A,Burstein E,Bar-David J,Levy A,Mazor M, Face and brow presentation: independent risk factors. The journal of maternal-fetal     [PubMed PMID: 18570114]

Shaffer BL,Cheng YW,Vargas JE,Laros RK Jr,Caughey AB, Face presentation: predictors and delivery route. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology. 2006 May;     [PubMed PMID: 16647888]

Bellussi F,Ghi T,Youssef A,Salsi G,Giorgetta F,Parma D,Simonazzi G,Pilu G, The use of intrapartum ultrasound to diagnose malpositions and cephalic malpresentations. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology. 2017 Dec;     [PubMed PMID: 28743440]

Ghi T,Eggebø T,Lees C,Kalache K,Rozenberg P,Youssef A,Salomon LJ,Tutschek B, ISUOG Practice Guidelines: intrapartum ultrasound. Ultrasound in obstetrics     [PubMed PMID: 29974596]

Benedetti TJ,Lowensohn RI,Truscott AM, Face presentation at term. Obstetrics and gynecology. 1980 Feb;     [PubMed PMID: 7352081]

Ducarme G,Ceccaldi PF,Chesnoy V,Robinet G,Gabriel R, [Face presentation: retrospective study of 32 cases at term]. Gynecologie, obstetrique     [PubMed PMID: 16630740]

Cruikshank DP,Cruikshank JE, Face and brow presentation: a review. Clinical obstetrics and gynecology. 1981 Jun;     [PubMed PMID: 7307363]

Domingues AP,Belo A,Moura P,Vieira DN, Medico-legal litigation in Obstetrics: a characterization analysis of a decade in Portugal. Revista brasileira de ginecologia e obstetricia : revista da Federacao Brasileira das Sociedades de Ginecologia e Obstetricia. 2015 May;     [PubMed PMID: 26107576]

. Intrapartum care for healthy women and babies. 2022 Dec 14:():     [PubMed PMID: 32212591]

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Fetal Presentation, Position, and Lie (Including Breech Presentation)

, MD, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

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presenting diameter in brow presentation

Abnormal fetal lie or presentation may occur due to fetal size, fetal anomalies, uterine structural abnormalities, multiple gestation, or other factors. Diagnosis is by examination or ultrasonography. Management is with physical maneuvers to reposition the fetus, operative vaginal delivery Operative Vaginal Delivery Operative vaginal delivery involves application of forceps or a vacuum extractor to the fetal head to assist during the second stage of labor and facilitate delivery. Indications for forceps... read more , or cesarean delivery Cesarean Delivery Cesarean delivery is surgical delivery by incision into the uterus. The rate of cesarean delivery was 32% in the United States in 2021 (see March of Dimes: Delivery Method). The rate has fluctuated... read more .

Terms that describe the fetus in relation to the uterus, cervix, and maternal pelvis are

Fetal presentation: Fetal part that overlies the maternal pelvic inlet; vertex (cephalic), face, brow, breech, shoulder, funic (umbilical cord), or compound (more than one part, eg, shoulder and hand)

Fetal position: Relation of the presenting part to an anatomic axis; for transverse presentation, occiput anterior, occiput posterior, occiput transverse

Fetal lie: Relation of the fetus to the long axis of the uterus; longitudinal, oblique, or transverse

Normal fetal lie is longitudinal, normal presentation is vertex, and occiput anterior is the most common position.

Abnormal fetal lie, presentation, or position may occur with

Fetopelvic disproportion (fetus too large for the pelvic inlet)

Fetal congenital anomalies

Uterine structural abnormalities (eg, fibroids, synechiae)

Multiple gestation

Several common types of abnormal lie or presentation are discussed here.

presenting diameter in brow presentation

Transverse lie

Fetal position is transverse, with the fetal long axis oblique or perpendicular rather than parallel to the maternal long axis. Transverse lie is often accompanied by shoulder presentation, which requires cesarean delivery.

Breech presentation

There are several types of breech presentation.

Frank breech: The fetal hips are flexed, and the knees extended (pike position).

Complete breech: The fetus seems to be sitting with hips and knees flexed.

Single or double footling presentation: One or both legs are completely extended and present before the buttocks.

Types of breech presentations

Breech presentation makes delivery difficult ,primarily because the presenting part is a poor dilating wedge. Having a poor dilating wedge can lead to incomplete cervical dilation, because the presenting part is narrower than the head that follows. The head, which is the part with the largest diameter, can then be trapped during delivery.

Additionally, the trapped fetal head can compress the umbilical cord if the fetal umbilicus is visible at the introitus, particularly in primiparas whose pelvic tissues have not been dilated by previous deliveries. Umbilical cord compression may cause fetal hypoxemia.

presenting diameter in brow presentation

Predisposing factors for breech presentation include

Preterm labor Preterm Labor Labor (regular uterine contractions resulting in cervical change) that begins before 37 weeks gestation is considered preterm. Risk factors include prelabor rupture of membranes, uterine abnormalities... read more

Multiple gestation Multifetal Pregnancy Multifetal pregnancy is presence of > 1 fetus in the uterus. Multifetal (multiple) pregnancy occurs in up to 1 of 30 deliveries. Risk factors for multiple pregnancy include Ovarian stimulation... read more

Uterine abnormalities

Fetal anomalies

If delivery is vaginal, breech presentation may increase risk of

Umbilical cord prolapse

Birth Injuries

Perinatal death

It is best to detect abnormal fetal lie or presentation before delivery. During routine prenatal care, clinicians assess fetal lie and presentation with physical examination in the late third trimester. Ultrasonography can also be done. If breech presentation is detected, external cephalic version can sometimes move the fetus to vertex presentation before labor, usually at 37 or 38 weeks. This technique involves gently pressing on the maternal abdomen to reposition the fetus. A dose of a short-acting tocolytic ( terbutaline 0.25 mg subcutaneously) may help. The success rate is about 50 to 75%. For persistent abnormal lie or presentation, cesarean delivery is usually done at 39 weeks or when the woman presents in labor.

presenting diameter in brow presentation

Face or brow presentation

In face presentation, the head is hyperextended, and position is designated by the position of the chin (mentum). When the chin is posterior, the head is less likely to rotate and less likely to deliver vaginally, necessitating cesarean delivery.

Brow presentation usually converts spontaneously to vertex or face presentation.

Occiput posterior position

The most common abnormal position is occiput posterior.

The fetal neck is usually somewhat deflexed; thus, a larger diameter of the head must pass through the pelvis.

Progress may arrest in the second phase of labor. Operative vaginal delivery Operative Vaginal Delivery Operative vaginal delivery involves application of forceps or a vacuum extractor to the fetal head to assist during the second stage of labor and facilitate delivery. Indications for forceps... read more or cesarean delivery Cesarean Delivery Cesarean delivery is surgical delivery by incision into the uterus. The rate of cesarean delivery was 32% in the United States in 2021 (see March of Dimes: Delivery Method). The rate has fluctuated... read more is often required.

Position and Presentation of the Fetus

If a fetus is in the occiput posterior position, operative vaginal delivery or cesarean delivery is often required.

In breech presentation, the presenting part is a poor dilating wedge, which can cause the head to be trapped during delivery, often compressing the umbilical cord.

For breech presentation, usually do cesarean delivery at 39 weeks or during labor, but external cephalic version is sometimes successful before labor, usually at 37 or 38 weeks.

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7.10 Brow presentation

Brow presentation constitutes an absolute foeto-pelvic disproportion, and vaginal delivery is impossible (except with preterm birth or extremely low birth weight).

This is an obstetric emergency, because labour is obstructed and there is a risk of uterine rupture and foetal distress.

7.10.1 Diagnosis

  • Head is high; as with a face presentation, there is a cleft between the head and back, but it is less marked.
  • the chin (it is not a face presentation),
  • the posterior fontanelle (it is not a vertex presentation).

Figures 7.9 - Brow presentation

Figure 7-9

Any mobile presenting part can subsequently flex. The diagnosis of brow presentation is, therefore, not made until after the membranes have ruptured and the head has begun to engage in a fixed presentation. Some brow presentations will spontaneously convert to a vertex or, more rarely, a face presentation.

During delivery, the presenting part is slow to descend: the brow is becoming impacted.

7.10.2 Management

Foetus alive.

  • Perform a caesarean section. When performing the caesarean section, an assistant must be ready to free the head by pushing it upward with a hand in the vagina.
  • Convert the brow presentation to a face presentation: between contractions, insert the fingers through the cervix and move the head, encouraging extension (Figures 7.10).
  • Attempt internal podalic version ( Section 7.9 ).

Both these manoeuvres pose a significant risk of uterine rupture. Vacuum extraction, forceps and symphysiotomy are contra-indicated.

presenting diameter in brow presentation

Foetus dead

Perform an embryotomy if the cervix is sufficiently dilated (Chapter 9, Section 9.7 ) otherwise, a caesarean section.

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Continuing Education Activity

Face and brow presentation is a malpresentation during labor when the presenting part is either the face or, in the case of brow presentation, it is the area between the orbital ridge and the anterior fontanelle. This activity reviews the evaluation and management of these two presentations and explains the role of the interprofessional team in managing delivery safely for both the mother and the baby.

Objectives:

  • Describe the mechanism of labor in the face and brow presentation.
  • Summarize potential maternal and fetal complications during the face and brow presentations.
  • Review different management approaches for the face and brow presentation.
  • Outline some interprofessional strategies that will improve patient outcomes in delivery cases with face and brow presentation issues.

Introduction

The term presentation describes the leading part of the fetus or the anatomical structure closest to the maternal pelvic inlet during labor. The presentation can roughly be divided into the following classifications: cephalic, breech, shoulder, and compound. Cephalic presentation is the most common and can be further subclassified as vertex, sinciput, brow, face, and chin. The most common presentation in term labor is the vertex, where the fetal neck is flexed to the chin, minimizing the head circumference.

Face presentation – an abnormal form of cephalic presentation where the presenting part is mentum. This typically occurs because of hyperextension of the neck and the occiput touching the fetal back. Incidence of face presentation is rare, accounting for approximately 1 in 600 of all presentations. [1] [2] [3]

In brow presentation, the neck is not extended as much as in face presentation, and the leading part is the area between the anterior fontanelle and the orbital ridges. Brow presentation is considered the rarest of all malpresentation with a prevalence of 1 in 500 to 1 in 4000 deliveries. [3]

Both face and brow presentations occur due to extension of the fetal neck instead of flexion; therefore, conditions that would lead to hyperextension or prevent flexion of the fetal neck can all contribute to face or brow presentation. These risk factors may be related to either the mother or the fetus. Maternal risk factors are preterm delivery, contracted maternal pelvis, platypelloid pelvis, multiparity, previous cesarean section, black race. Fetal risk factors include anencephaly, multiple loops of cord around the neck, masses of the neck, macrosomia, polyhydramnios. [2] [4] [5]

These malpresentations are usually diagnosed during the second stage of labor when performing a digital examination. It is possible to palpate orbital ridges, nose, malar eminences, mentum, mouth, gums, and chin in face presentation. Based on the position of the chin, face presentation can be further divided into mentum anterior, posterior, or transverse. In brow presentation, anterior fontanelle and face can be palpated except for the mouth and the chin. Brow presentation can then be further described based on the position of the anterior fontanelle as frontal anterior, posterior, or transverse.

Diagnosing the exact presentation can be challenging, and face presentation may be misdiagnosed as frank breech. To avoid any confusion, a bedside ultrasound scan can be performed. [6]  The ultrasound imaging can show a reduced angle between the occiput and the spine or, the chin is separated from the chest. However, ultrasound does not provide much predicting value in the outcome of the labor. [7]

Anatomy and Physiology

Before discussing the mechanism of labor in the face or brow presentation, it is crucial to highlight some anatomical landmarks and their measurements. 

Planes and Diameters of the Pelvis

The three most important planes in the female pelvis are the pelvic inlet, mid pelvis, and pelvic outlet. 

Four diameters can describe the pelvic inlet: anteroposterior, transverse, and two obliques. Furthermore, based on the different landmarks on the pelvic inlet, there are three different anteroposterior diameters, named conjugates: true conjugate, obstetrical conjugate, and diagonal conjugate. Only the latter can be measured directly during the obstetric examination. The shortest of these three diameters is obstetrical conjugate, which measures approximately 10.5 cm and is a distance between the sacral promontory and 1 cm below the upper border of the symphysis pubis. This measurement is clinically significant as the fetal head must pass through this diameter during the engagement phase. The transverse diameter measures about 13.5cm and is the widest distance between the innominate line on both sides. 

The shortest distance in the mid pelvis is the interspinous diameter and usually is only about 10 cm. 

Fetal Skull Diameters

There are six distinguished longitudinal fetal skull diameters:

  • Suboccipito-bregmatic: from the center of anterior fontanelle (bregma) to the occipital protuberance, measuring 9.5 cm. This is the presenting diameter in vertex presentation. 
  • Suboccipito-frontal: from the anterior part of bregma to the occipital protuberance, measuring 10 cm 
  • Occipito-frontal: from the root of the nose to the most prominent part of the occiput, measuring 11.5cm
  • Submento-bregmatic: from the center of the bregma to the angle of the mandible, measuring 9.5 cm. This is the presenting diameter in face presentation where the neck is hyperextended. 
  • Submento-vertical: from the midpoint between fontanelles and the angle of the mandible, measuring 11.5cm 
  • Occipito-mental: from the midpoint between fontanelles and the tip of the chin, measuring 13.5 cm. It is the presenting diameter in brow presentation. 

Cardinal Movements of Normal Labor

  • Neck flexion
  • Internal rotation
  • Extension (delivers head)
  • External rotation (Restitution)
  • Expulsion (delivery of anterior and posterior shoulders)

Some of the key movements are not possible in the face or brow presentations.  

Based on the information provided above, it is obvious that labor will be arrested in brow presentation unless it spontaneously changes to face or vertex, as the occipito-mental diameter of the fetal head is significantly wider than the smallest diameter of the female pelvis. Face presentation can, however, be delivered vaginally, and further mechanisms of face delivery will be explained in later sections.

Indications

As mentioned previously, spontaneous vaginal delivery can be successful in face presentation. However, the main indication for vaginal delivery in such circumstances would be a maternal choice. It is crucial to have a thorough conversation with a mother, explaining the risks and benefits of vaginal delivery with face presentation and a cesarean section. Informed consent and creating a rapport with the mother is an essential aspect of safe and successful labor.

Contraindications

Vaginal delivery of face presentation is contraindicated if the mentum is lying posteriorly or is in a transverse position. In such a scenario, the fetal brow is pressing against the maternal symphysis pubis, and the short fetal neck, which is already maximally extended, cannot span the surface of the maternal sacrum. In this position, the diameter of the head is larger than the maternal pelvis, and it cannot descend through the birth canal. Therefore the cesarean section is recommended as the safest mode of delivery for mentum posterior face presentations. 

Attempts to manually convert face presentation to vertex, manual or forceps rotation of the persistent posterior chin to anterior are contraindicated as they can be dangerous.

Persistent brow presentation itself is a contraindication for vaginal delivery unless the fetus is significantly small or the maternal pelvis is large.

Continuous electronic fetal heart rate monitoring is recommended for face and brow presentations, as heart rate abnormalities are common in these scenarios. One study found that only 14% of the cases with face presentation had no abnormal traces on the cardiotocograph. [8] It is advised to use external transducer devices to prevent damage to the eyes. When internal monitoring is inevitable, it is suggested to place monitoring devices on bony parts carefully. 

People who are usually involved in the delivery of face/ brow presentation are:

  • Experienced midwife, preferably looking after laboring woman 1:1
  • Senior obstetrician 
  • Neonatal team - in case of need for resuscitation 
  • Anesthetic team - to provide necessary pain control (e.g., epidural)
  • Theatre team  - in case of failure to progress and an emergency cesarean section will be required.

Preparation

No specific preparation is required for face or brow presentation. However, it is essential to discuss the labor options with the mother and birthing partner and inform members of the neonatal, anesthetic, and theatre co-ordinating teams.

Technique or Treatment

Mechanism of Labor in Face Presentation

During contractions, the pressure exerted by the fundus of the uterus on the fetus and pressure of amniotic fluid initiate descent. During this descent, the fetal neck extends instead of flexing. The internal rotation determines the outcome of delivery, if the fetal chin rotates posteriorly, vaginal delivery would not be possible, and cesarean section is permitted. The approach towards mentum-posterior delivery should be individualized, as the cases are rare. Expectant management is acceptable in multiparous women with small fetuses, as a spontaneous mentum-anterior rotation can occur. However, there should be a low threshold for cesarean section in primigravida women or women with large fetuses.

When the fetal chin is rotated towards maternal symphysis pubis as described as mentum-anterior; in these cases further descend through the vaginal canal continues with approximately 73% cases deliver spontaneously. [9] Fetal mentum presses on the maternal symphysis pubis, and the head is delivered by flexion. The occiput is pointing towards the maternal back, and external rotation happens. Shoulders are delivered in the same manner as in vertex delivery.

Mechanism of Labor in Brow Presentation

As this presentation is considered unstable, it is usually converted into a face or an occiput presentation. Due to the cephalic diameter being wider than the maternal pelvis, the fetal head cannot engage; thus, brow delivery cannot take place. Unless the fetus is small or the pelvis is very wide, the prognosis for vaginal delivery is poor. With persistent brow presentation, a cesarean section is required for safe delivery.

Complications

As the cesarean section is becoming a more accessible mode of delivery in malpresentations, the incidence of maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality during face presentation has dropped significantly. [10]

However, there are still some complications associated with the nature of labor in face presentation. Due to the fetal head position, it is more challenging for the head to engage in the birth canal and descend, resulting in prolonged labor.

Prolonged labor itself can provoke foetal distress and arrhythmias. If the labor arrests or signs of fetal distress appear on CTG, the recommended next step in management is an emergency cesarean section, which in itself carries a myriad of operative and post-operative complications.

Finally, due to the nature of the fetal position and prolonged duration of labor in face presentation, neonates develop significant edema of the skull and face. Swelling of the fetal airway may also be present, resulting in respiratory distress after birth and possible intubation.

Clinical Significance

During vertex presentation, the fetal head flexes, bringing the chin to the chest, forming the smallest possible fetal head diameter, measuring approximately 9.5cm. With face and brow presentation, the neck hyperextends, resulting in greater cephalic diameters. As a result, the fetal head will engage later, and labor will progress more slowly. Failure to progress in labor is also more common in both presentations compared to vertex presentation.

Furthermore, when the fetal chin is in a posterior position, this prevents further flexion of the fetal neck, as browns are pressing on the symphysis pubis. As a result, descend through the birth canal is impossible. Such presentation is considered undeliverable vaginally and requires an emergency cesarean section.

Manual attempts to change face presentation to vertex, manual or forceps rotation to mentum anterior are considered dangerous and are discouraged.

Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes

A multidisciplinary team of healthcare experts supports the woman and her child during labor and the perinatal period. For a face or brow presentation to be appropriately diagnosed, an experienced midwife and obstetrician must be involved in the vaginal examination and labor monitoring. As fetal anomalies, such as anencephaly or goiter, can contribute to face presentation, sonographers experienced in antenatal scanning should also be involved in the care. It is advised to inform the anesthetic and neonatal teams in advance of the possible need for emergency cesarean section and resuscitation of the neonate. [11] [12]

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Disclosure: Mohsina Ashraf declares no relevant financial relationships with ineligible companies.

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Delivery, Face Presentation, and Brow Presentation: Understanding Fetal Positions and Birth Scenarios

Delivery, Face Presentation, and Brow Presentation: Understanding Fetal Positions and Birth Scenarios

Introduction:.

During childbirth, the position of the baby plays a significant role in the delivery process. While the most common fetal presentation is the head-down position (vertex presentation), variations can occur, such as face presentation and brow presentation. This comprehensive article aims to provide a thorough understanding of delivery, face presentation, and brow presentation, including their definitions, causes, complications, and management approaches.

Delivery Process:

  • Normal Vertex Presentation: In a typical delivery, the baby is positioned head-down, with the back of the head (occiput) leading the way through the birth canal.
  • Engagement and Descent: Prior to delivery, the baby's head engages in the pelvis and gradually descends, preparing for birth.
  • Cardinal Movements: The baby undergoes a series of cardinal movements, including flexion, internal rotation, extension, external rotation, and restitution, which facilitate the passage through the birth canal.

Face Presentation:

  • Definition: Face presentation occurs when the baby's face is positioned to lead the way through the birth canal instead of the vertex (head).
  • Causes: Face presentation can occur due to factors such as abnormal fetal positioning, multiple pregnancies, uterine abnormalities, or maternal pelvic anatomy.
  • Complications: Face presentation is associated with an increased risk of prolonged labor, difficulties in delivery, increased fetal malposition, birth injuries, and the need for instrumental delivery.
  • Management: The management of face presentation depends on several factors, including the progression of labor, the size of the baby, and the expertise of the healthcare provider. Options may include closely monitoring the progress of labor, attempting a vaginal delivery with careful maneuvers, or considering a cesarean section if complications arise.

Brow Presentation:

  • Definition: Brow presentation occurs when the baby's head is partially extended, causing the brow (forehead) to lead the way through the birth canal.
  • Causes: Brow presentation may result from abnormal fetal positioning, poor engagement of the fetal head, or other factors that prevent full flexion or extension.
  • Complications: Brow presentation is associated with a higher risk of prolonged labor, difficulty in descent, increased chances of fetal head entrapment, birth injuries, and the potential need for instrumental delivery or cesarean section.
  • Management: The management of brow presentation depends on various factors, such as cervical dilation, progress of labor, fetal size, and the presence of complications. Close monitoring, expert assessment, and a multidisciplinary approach may be necessary to determine the safest delivery method, which can include vaginal delivery with careful maneuvers, instrumental assistance, or cesarean section if warranted.

Delivery Techniques and Intervention:

  • Obstetric Maneuvers: In certain situations, skilled healthcare providers may use obstetric maneuvers, such as manual rotation or the use of forceps or vacuum extraction, to facilitate delivery, reposition the baby, or prevent complications.
  • Cesarean Section: In cases where vaginal delivery is not possible or poses risks to the mother or baby, a cesarean section may be performed to ensure a safe delivery.

Conclusion:

Delivery, face presentation, and brow presentation are important aspects of childbirth that require careful management and consideration. Understanding the definitions, causes, complications, and appropriate management approaches associated with these fetal positions can help healthcare providers ensure safe and successful deliveries. Individualized care, close monitoring, and multidisciplinary collaboration are crucial in optimizing maternal and fetal outcomes during these unique delivery scenarios.

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Malpresentation, Malposition, Cephalopelvic Disproportion and Obstetric Procedures

26 Malpresentation, Malposition, Cephalopelvic Disproportion and Obstetric Procedures Kim Hinshaw 1,2 and Sabaratnam Arulkumaran 3 1 Sunderland Royal Hospital, Sunderland, UK 2 University of Sunderland, Sunderland, UK 3 St George’s University of London, London, UK Malpresentation, malposition and cephalopelvic disproportion Definitions The vertex is a diamond‐shaped area on the fetal skull bounded by the anterior and posterior fontanelles and laterally by the parietal eminences. Vertex presentation is found in 95% of labours at term and is associated with flexion of the fetal head. Breech, brow, face and shoulder presentations constitute the remaining 5% and are collectively known as malpresentations . Their aetiology is usually unknown, but associations include macrosomia, multiparity, polyhydramnios, multiple pregnancy, placenta praevia, preterm labour, and anomalies of the uterus or pelvis (congenital or acquired, e.g. lower segment fibroids) and more rarely the fetus. The denominator is a laterally sited bony eminence on the presenting part (‘occiput’ for vertex presentation, ‘mentum’ for face, ‘acromium’ for shoulder and ‘sacrum’ for breech). The position of the presenting part is defined by the relationship of the denominator to the maternal bony pelvis. The vertex enters the pelvis in the occipito‐transverse (OT) position and during descent rotates to an occipito‐anterior (OA) position in 90% of cases. This position is associated with a well‐flexed head, allowing the smallest anteroposterior (suboccipito‐bregmatic) and lateral (biparietal) diameters to pass through the pelvis (both 9.5 cm). Malposition occurs when the occiput remains in a tranverse or posterior position as labour progresses. Persistent malposition results in deflexion with a larger anteroposterior diameter presenting (occipito‐frontal 11.5 cm). It is associated with increasing degrees of anterior or posterior asynclitism , with one of the parietal bones preceding the sagittal suture (in posterior asynclitism, the posterior parietal bone leads; Fig. 26.1 ). Significant degrees of asynclitism can result in labour dystocia and a higher risk of operative delivery [1] . Fig. 26.1 Posterior asynclitism of the vertex: posterior parietal bone presenting below the sagittal suture. In most cases, flexion occurs as the vertex descends onto the pelvic floor, leading to correction of the malposition and a high chance of spontaneous delivery. The level of the presenting part should be critically assessed as labour progresses. On abdominal examination, the head should descend until it is no more than 1/5 palpable in the late first stage. On vaginal examination the presenting part is assessed relative to the level of the ischial spines. Care must be taken to assess the level using the lowest bony part . Malposition is associated with increased moulding of the fetal skull and a large caput succedaneum, which may give false reassurance about the true degree of descent. In modern obstetric practice, operative vaginal delivery is not attempted if the leading edge of the skull is above the ischial spines (i.e. above ‘0’ station; Fig. 26.2 ). Fig. 26.2 Level of the presenting part relative to the ischial spines. Malpresentations Breech presentation The incidence of breech presentation varies according to gestation: 20% at 30 weeks falling to 4% by term. The aetiology of most breech presentations at term is unclear but known factors to consider include placenta praevia, polyhydramnios, bicornuate uterus, fibroids and, rarely, spina bifida or hydrocephaly. Types of breech presentation Between 50 and 70% of breech presentations manifest with hips flexed and knees extended (extended breech) Complete (or flexed) breech is more common in multiparous women and constitutes 5–10% at term (hips and knees flexed; Fig. 26.3 ). Incomplete or footling breech (10–30%) presents with one or both hips extended, or one or both feet presenting and is most strongly assoiated with cord prolapse (5–10%). Knee presentation is rare. Fig. 26.3 The common types of breech presentation. Clinical diagnosis may miss up to 20% of breech presentations, relying on identifying the head as a distinct hard spherical hard mass to one or other side under the hypochondrium which distinctly ‘ballots’. In such cases the breech is said to feel broader and an old adage reminds us: ‘Beware the deeply engaged head – it is probably a breech!’ Auscultation may locate the fetal heart above the maternal umbilicus and ultrasound confirmation should be considered. Antenatal management If breech presentation is suspected at 36 weeks, ultrasound assessment is recommended as it allows a comprehensive assessment of the type of breech, placental site, estimated fetal weight, confirmation of normality and exclusion of nuchal cord or hyperextension of the fetal neck. External cephalic version (ECV) is encouraged after 36 or more weeks as the chance of spontaneous version to cephalic presentation after 37 weeks is only 8%. Absolute contraindications are relatively few but include placenta praevia, bleeding within the last 7 days, abnormal cardiotocography (CTG), major uterine anomaly, ruptured membranes and multiple pregnancy [2] . Couples should receive counselling about the procedure and its success rates and complications, and the subsequent management of persistent breech presentation. Tocolysis increases the likelihood of success, with average rates of 50% (range 30–80%). Women should be made aware that even with a cephalic presentation following ECV, labour is still associated with a higher rate of obstetric intervention than when ECV has not been required. ECV should be performed in a setting where urgent caesarean section (CS) is available in case of fetal compromise during or soon after ECV. CTG for 30–40 min prior to and after ECV should provide confirmation of fetal health. The chance of success is greater with multiparity, flexed breech presentation and an adequate liquor volume. The use of moxibustion at 33–35 weeks, in combination with acupuncture, may reduce the numbers of births by CS. Training specialist midwives is potentially cost‐efficient with success rates comparable to consultant‐led services (51–66%) [3] . The first step in ECV involves disengaging the breech by moving the fetus up and away from the pelvis, shifting it to a sideways position, followed by a forward somersault to move the head to the lower pole; if this fails a backward somersault can be tried. The need for emergency delivery by CS because of suspected fetal compromise is estimated to be 0.5%. Mothers who are rhesus‐negative should have a Kleihauer–Betke test after the procedure and receive anti‐D. If ECV is unsuccessful, women who are keen to avoid CS may be offered a repeat attempt under neuraxial blockade. This increases the chances of success (58.4% vs. 43.1%; relative risk, RR 1.44, 95% CI 1.27–1.64) and reduces the incidence of CS (46.0% vs. 55.3%; RR 0.83, 95% CI 0.71–0.97) [4] . Otherwise appropriate counselling about the options of elective CS or assisted vaginal breech delivery should be offered. Deciding mode of delivery Despite increasing evidence supporting elective CS for breech delivery at term, controversy and debate continue among professional groups. Breech presentation at term diagnosed antenatally . The Term Breech Trial is the largest published randomized controlled trial where the primary outcome (serious perinatal morbidity and mortality) favoured planned CS over planned vaginal birth: 17/1039 (1.6%) versus 50/1039 (5.0%; RR 0.33, 95% CI 0.19–0.56; P <0.0001) [5] . The trial concluded that ‘planned CS is better than planned VB for the term fetus in the breech presentation; serious maternal complications are similar between the groups’. This has significantly changed practice in many countries despite continuing debate and criticism about the trial design and intepretation of outcomes. However, the latest systematic review has confirmed a significant increased perinatal risk associated with planned vaginal birth [6] . Breech at term diagnosed in labour and preterm breech delivery . Observational trials of term breech ‘undiagnosed’ until presentation in labour confirm that this group has a high vaginal delivery rate with relatively low perinatal morbidity. In a similar vein, the evidence to guide best practice for delivery of the preterm breech remains equivocal, decisions often being based on individual interpretation of the data and local custom and practice. Conducting a vaginal breech delivery For women who wish to deliver vaginally, antenatal selection aims to ensure optimal outcome for mother and baby but remains relatively subjective. Women with frank and complete breech presentations (fetal weight <4000 g) encounter minimal problems, while those with footling breech are advised elective CS because of the increased risk of cord prolapse. CT or X‐ray pelvimetry do not appear to improve outcome. Spontaneous onset of labour is preferred and labour management is similar to vertex presentation. Successful outcome depends on a normal rate of cervical dilatation, descent of the breech and a normal fetal heart rate (FHR) pattern. Where progress of labour is poor and uterine contractions are inadequate, oxytocin augmentation can be used juidiciously with early resort to emergency CS if progress remains slow (<0.5 cm/hour), particularly in the late first stage. Epidural anaesthesia prevents bearing down before the cervix is fully dilated and is particularly important for labour with a preterm breech, when there is a real risk of head entrapment in the incompletely dilated cervix if pushing commences too early. For all breech labours, the mother should be encouraged to avoid bearing down for as long as possible. It is best to wait until the anterior buttock and anus of the baby are in view over the mother’s perineum, with no retraction between contractions. Classically, the mother’s legs are supported in the lithotomy position (the alternative upright breech technique is described later). Primigravidae will usually require an episiotomy with appropriate analgesia, although multigravidae can be assessed as the perineum stretches up. The buttocks deliver in the sacro‐tranverse position. The mother should be encouraged to push with contractions, aiming for an unassisted delivery up to and beyond the level of the umbilicus. There is no need to pull down a loop of cord. The accoucheur should sit with hands ready, but resting on their own legs. Assistance is only required if the legs do not deliver. Gentle abduction of the fetal thigh whilst hyperflexing the hip, followed by flexing the lower leg at the knee will release the foot and leg ( Fig. 26.4 ). Fig. 26.4 Delivery of extended legs by gentle abduction of the thigh with hyperflexion at the hip, followed by flexion at the knee: (a) right leg; (b) left leg. When the scapulae are visible with the arms flexed in front of the chest, sweep each arm around the side of the fetal chest to deliver using a finger placed along the length of the humerus. If the scapulae are not easily seen or if the arms are not easily reached, they may be extended above the shoulders. This can be resolved using the Løvset manoeuvre. Hold the baby by wrapping both hands around the bony pelvis, taking care not to apply pressure to the soft fetal abdomen. Rotate the baby 180° to bring the posterior shoulder to the front, i.e. to lie anteriorly ( Fig. 26.5 a). Complete delivery of the anterior arm by gently flexing the baby laterally downwards towards the floor; the arm will deliver easily from under the pubic ramus ( Fig. 26.5 b). Repeat the 180° rotation in the opposite direction, bringing the posterior shoulder to the front, then flex the baby laterally downwards to deliver the second arm. Fig. 26.5 Løvset’s manoeuvre for extended arms: (a) rotation to bring the posterior (left) arm to the front followed by (b) delivery of the left arm (now anterior) from under the pubic ramus. Nuchal displacement (an arm trapped behind the fetal neck) is rare. If the left arm is trapped, the baby will need to be rotated in a clockwise direction to ‘unwrap’ the arm so that it can be reached. If the right arm is involved, anticlockwise rotation is needed. Allow the head to descend into the pelvis, assisted by the weight of the fetus until the nape of the neck is visible under the symphysis pubis. Ensure slow controlled delivery of the head using one of four methods. Mauriceau–Smellie–Veit manoeuvre: two fingers are placed on the maxilla, lying the baby along the forearm. Hook index and fourth fingers of the other hand over the shoulders with the middle finger on the occiput to aid flexion. Apply traction to the shoulders with an assistant applying suprapubic pressure if needed ( Fig. 26.6 ). Burns–Marshall method: grasp the feet, apply gentle traction and swing the baby gently up and over the maternal abdomen until the mouth and nose appear. Forceps are applied to the head from below, with an assistant supporting the baby’s body in the horizontal plane avoiding hyperextension. Kielland’s forceps can be useful as they lack a pelvic curve. Apply traction, bringing the forceps upwards as the mouth and nose appear. The upright breech technique is increasingly popular in midwifery deliveries. Mobility is encouraged with delivery on all fours, sitting (on a birth stool), kneeling, standing or lying in a lateral position. Delivery is spontaneous with no manual assistance in 70% of cases and a reduced incidence of perineal trauma (14.9%). Fig. 26.6 Delivery of the head using the Mauriceau–Smellie–Veit manoeuvre assisted by suprapubic pressure. Entrapment of the aftercoming head This rare complication occurs in two situations. If the fetal back is allowed to rotate posteriorly, the chin may be trapped behind the symphysis pubis. Correction requires difficult internal manipulation to free the chin by pushing it laterally. McRoberts’ manoeuvre and suprapubic pressure may help. Symphysiotomy is a last resort that can increase the available pelvic diameters. In preterm delivery, the body can slip through an incompletely dilated cervix, with resulting head entrapment. If the cervix cannot be ‘stretched up’ digitally, surgical incisions are made in the cervical ring at 2, 6 and 10 o’clock (Dührssen incisions). Head entrapment in the contractile upper segment can occur at CS. Acute tocolysis and/or extension of the uterine incision may be required to release the head. Women should be intimately involved in decisions about mode of breech delivery and the available evidence presented appropriately. A senior midwife or a doctor experienced in assisted breech delivery must be present. As vaginal breech deliveries decline, developing expertise in breech delivery now relies on simulation training and experience of breech delivery at CS. Summary box 26.1 ECV has a high success rate (51–66%) and should be encouraged. Ensure the fetal back does not rotate posteriorly during breech delivery. The most experienced accoucheur available should directly supervise vaginal breech delivery. Brow presentation Brow presentation occurs in 1 in 1500–3000 deliveries. The head is partially deflexed (extended), with the largest diameter of the head presenting (mento‐vertical, 13.5 cm). The forehead is the lowest presenting part but diagnosis relies on identifying the prominent orbital ridges lying laterally. The eyeballs and nasal bridge may just be palpated lateral to the orbital ridges. Position is defined using the frontal bone as the denominator (i.e. ‘fronto‐‘). Persistent brow presentation results in true disproportion, but when diagnosed in early labour careful assessment of progress is appropriate. Flexion to vertex or further extension to face presentation occurs in 50% and vaginal delivery is possible. Cautious augmentation with oxytocin should only be considered in nulliparous patients for delay in the early active phase of labour. If brow presentation persists, emergency CS is recommended. Vaginal delivery of a brow presentation is possible in extreme prematurity. Preterm labour is best managed in the same way as term labour, with delivery by CS if progress slows or arrests. Cord prolapse is more common and, though rare, uterine rupture can occur in neglected labour or with injudicious use of oxytocin. For this reason labour should not be augmented in multigravid patients with a confirmed brow presentation if progress is inadequate. Face presentation Face presentation occurs in 1 in 500–800 labours. The general causes of malpresentation apply for face presentation, but fetal anomalies (neck or thyroid masses, hydrocephalus and anencephaly) should be excluded. The fetal head is hyperextended and the occiput may be felt higher and more prominently on the same side as the fetal spine. However, face presentation is rarely diagnosed antenatally. On vaginal examination in labour, diagnosis relies on feeling the mouth, malar bones, nose and orbital ridges. Position is defined using the chin or mentum as the denominator. The mouth and malar bones form a triangle which can help differentiate face presentation from breech, where the anus lies in a straight line between the prominent ischial tuberosities. Face presentation is often first diagnosed in late labour. The submento‐bregmatic diameter (9.5 cm) is compatible with normal delivery but only with the fetus in a mento‐anterior position (60%) ( Fig. 26.7 ). The same diameter presents with a persistent mento‐posterior position (25%) but this cannot deliver vaginally as the fetal neck is maximally extended. Fetal scalp clips, blood sampling and vacuum extraction are absolutely contraindicated. Forceps delivery from low cavity can be undertaken for mento‐anterior or mento‐lateral positions by an experienced accoucheur but CS may still be required when descent is poor. Fig. 26.7 The anteroposterior submento‐bregmatic diameter of face presentation. Shoulder presentation The incidence of shoulder presentation at term is 1 in 200 and is found with a transverse or oblique lie. Multiparity (uterine laxity) and prematurity are common associations and placenta praevia must be excluded. The lie will usually correct spontaneously before labour as uterine tone increases, although prolapse of the cord or arm is a significant risk if membranes rupture early. For this reason, hospital admission from 38 weeks is recommended for persistent transverse lie. External version can be offered (and may also be considered for transverse lie presenting in very early labour). On vaginal examination, the denominator is the acromium but defining position can be difficult. If membrane rupture occurs at term with the uterus actively contracting, delivery by CS should be undertaken promptly to avoid an impacted transverse lie. If the uterus is found to be moulded around the fetus, a classical CS is recommended to avoid both fetal and maternal trauma. In cases of intrauterine death with a transverse lie, spontaneous vaginal delivery is possible for early preterm fetuses by extreme flexion of the body (spontaneous evolution). However, CS will usually be required beyond mid‐trimester, although a lower segment approach may be used. Malposition and cephalopelvic disproportion In higher‐income countries, cephalopelvic disproportion is usually ‘relative’ and due to persistent malposition or relative fetal size (macrosomia). Classically we consider these problems with regard to the passage, the passenger or the powers, either alone or in combination. The passage Absolute disproportion due to a contracted pelvis is now rare in higher‐income countries unless caused by severe pelvic trauma and this should be known before the onset of labour. Caldwell and Moloy described four types of pelvis: gynaecoid (ovoid inlet, widest transversely, 50%), anthropoid (ovoid inlet, widest anteroposterior, 25%), android (heart‐shaped inlet, funnel‐shaped, 20%) and platypelloid (flattened gynaecoid, 3%). These can influence labour outcome but as pelvimetry is rarely used and clinical assessment of pelvic shape is inaccurate, this rarely influences clinical mangement in labour. The anthropoid pelvis is associated with a higher risk of persistent occipito‐posterior (OP) position and relative disproportion. The passenger and OP malposition Fetal anomalies (e.g. hydrocephalus, ascites) where disproportion may be a problem in labour are usually assessed antenatally and delivery by elective CS considered. Fetal macrosomia is increasing, related to the rising body mass index (BMI) in many pregnant populations. The evidence for inducing non‐diabetic women with an estimated fetal weight above the 90th centile (or >4000 g) in order to reduce cephalopelvic disproportion remains equivocal. Malposition is an increasingly common cause of disproportion and may be related to a sedentary lifestyle. OP position is associated with deflexion and/or asynclitism with a larger diameter presenting. Optimal uterine activity will correct the malposition in 75% of cases. Flexion occurs as the occiput reaches the pelvic floor with long rotation through 135° to an OA position and a high chance of normal delivery. Moulding of the fetal skull and pelvic elasticity (related to changes at the symphysis pubis) are dynamic changes that facilitate progress in labour and delivery. Short rotation through 45° to direct OP can result in spontaneous ‘face to pubes’ delivery, although episiotomy may be required to allow the occiput to deliver. Persistent OP position occurs in up to 25% of cases and is associated with further deflexion. The risk of assisted delivery is high because of relative disproportion as the presenting skull diameters increase. Delivery in the OP position from mid‐cavity (0 to +2 station) requires critical assessment to decide whether delivery should be attempted vaginally or abdominally and is discussed in later sections. The powers Disproportion is intimately related to dystocia and failure to progress in labour. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines recommend that first stage delay is suspected with cervical dilatation of less than 2 cm in 4 hours when forewater amniotomy should be offered. Delay is confirmed if progress is less than 1 cm 2 hours later and oxytocin augmentation should be offered [6] . This shortens labour but does not affect operative delivery rates. High‐dose oxytocin may reduce CS rates but larger trials are required before these regimens are used routinely. The decision to use oxytocin in labour arrest in multigravid patients must only be made by the most senior obstetrician and should always be approached with extreme caution as uterine rupture is a possible consequence. In the second stage, particularly with epidural analgesia, passive descent for at least 1 hour is recommended, and possibly longer if the woman wishes, before encouraging active pushing. With regional analgesia and a normal FHR pattern, birth should occur within 4 hours of full dilatation regardless of parity [7] . Oxytocin may be commenced in nulliparous patients in the passive phase if contractions are felt to be inadequate and particularly with the persistent OP position. Failure of second‐stage descent combined with excessive caput or moulding suggests disproportion and requires critical assessment to decide the appropriate mode of delivery. Summary box 26.2 OP position with deflexion of the head and asynclitism results in relative disproportion compounded by inadequate uterine activity. With epidural analgesia in place, passive descent should be encouraged for at least 1 hour. Augmentation with oxytocin should be used with extreme caution in multigravid patients with labour arrest. Instrumental vaginal deliveries Background The incidence of instrumental vaginal delivery (IVD) varies widely and in Europe ranges from 0.5% (Romania) to 16.4% (Ireland), although there is no direct relationship with CS rates [ 8 , 9 ]. Epidural analgesia is associated with higher IVD rates. Allowing a longer passive second stage for descent results in less rotational deliveries and possibly a reduction in second‐stage CS [ 10 , 11 ]. Common indications for IVD include delay in the second stage of labour due to inadequate uterine activity, malposition with relative disproportion, maternal exhaustion and fetal compromise. Women with severe cardiac, respiratory or hypertensive disease or intracranial pathology may require IVD to shorten the second stage (when forceps may be preferred). Assessment and preparation for IVD The condition of the mother and fetus and the progress of labour should be assessed prior to performing IVD. Personal introductions to the woman and her partner are essential, explaining the reason for IVD and ensuring a chaperone and enough support are available. The findings, plan of action and the procedure itself should be explained and the discussions carefully recorded. Verbal or written consent is obtained. The mother and her partner may be physically and emotionally exhausted and great care should be exercised in terms of behaviour, communication and medical action. On abdominal examination, the fetal head should be no more than 1/5 palpable (preferably 0/5). A scaphoid shape to the lower abdomen may indicate an OP position. The FHR pattern should be assessed, noting any clinical signs of fetal compromise (e.g. fresh meconium). With acute fetal compromise (e.g. profound bradycardia, cord prolapse) delivery must be expedited urgently and this may only allow a brief explanation to be given to the patient and her partner at the time. If contractions are felt to be infrequent or short‐lasting, an oxytocin infusion should be considered in the absence of signs of fetal compromise. Both vacuum and forceps deliveries are associated with an almost threefold increased risk of shoulder dystocia compared with spontaneous delivery and this should be anticipated. However, it remains unclear whether this increased incidence is a cause or effect phenomenon [12] . On vaginal examination the cervix should be fully dilated with membranes absent. The colour and amount of amniotic fluid is recorded. Excessive caput or moulding may suggest the possibility of disproportion. Inability to reduce overlapping skull bones with gentle pressure is designated ‘moulding +++’; overlapping that reduces by gentle digital pressure is ‘moulding ++’, and meeting of the bones without overlap is ‘moulding +’. Identification of position, station, degree of deflexion and asynclitism will help decide whether IVD is appropriate, where it should be undertaken and who should undertake the procedure. Successful IVD is associated with station below the spines and progressive descent with pushing. If the head is 1/5 palpable abdominally, the leading bony part of the head is at the level of the ischial spines (mid‐cavity). When the head is more than 1/5 palpable and/or when station is above the spines, delivery by CS is recommended. Position is determined by identification of suture lines and fontanelles. The small posterior fontanelle (PF) lies at the Y‐shaped junction of the sagittal and lambdoidal sutures but may be difficult to feel when there is marked caput. The anterior fontanelle (AF) is a larger diamond‐shaped depression at the junction of the two parietal and two frontal bones. It can be differentiated from the PF by identifying the four sutures leading into the fontanelle. In deflexion (particularly OP positions) the AF lies centrally and is easily felt. Position can be confirmed by reaching for the pinna of the fetal ear, which can be flicked forwards indicating that the occiput lies in the opposite direction. Reaching the ear suggests descent below the mid‐pelvic strait. The degree of asynclitism should be assessed (see Fig. 26.1 ), with increasing degrees suggesting disproportion and a potentially more difficult IVD. Assessment of level and position can be difficult with OP position and in obesity. If there is any doubt after careful clinical examination, ultrasound assessment is recommended. The fetal orbits are sought and the position of the spine is noted. This is simple to do and can reduce the incorrect diagnosis of fetal position without delaying delivery, although on its own may not reduce morbidity associated with IVD [13] . IVD is normally performed with the mother in the dorsal semi‐upright position with legs flexed and abducted, supported by lithotomy poles or similar. The procedure is performed with good light and ideally aseptic conditions. The vulva and perineum should be cleansed and the bladder catheterized if the woman is unable to void. Adequate analgesia is essential and requires careful individualized assessment. Epidural anaesthesia is advisable for mid‐cavity IVD (i.e. station 0 to +2 cm below the ischial spines; see Fig. 26.2 ). In the absence of a pre‐existing epidural, spinal anaesthesia may be considered. IVD at station +2 cm or below is termed ‘low‐cavity’ and regional or pudendal block with local perineal infiltration (20 mL 1% plain lidocaine) can be used. Outlet IVD is performed when the head is on or near the perineum with the scalp visible without separating the labia. Descent to this level is associated with an OA position requiring minimal or no rotation and perineal infiltration with pudendal anaesthesia is effective. When the vertex is below the spines, IVD is carried out with different types of forceps or vacuum equipment, depending on the position and station of the vertex and the familiarity and experience of the doctor. Overall, comparing outcomes is easier if designation is by station and position at the time of instrumentation (e.g. left OP at +3) rather than simply mid, low or outlet IVD [ 11 , 14 ]. Choice of instruments: forceps or ventouse The choice of instrument depends on the operator’s experience, familiarity with the instrument, station and position of the vertex. Therefore, knowledge of the station and the position of the vertex is essential. The fetus in an OA position in the mid/low cavity can be delivered using non‐rotational, long or short‐handled forceps or a vacuum device: silicone, plastic or anterior metal cups (with suction tubing arising from the dorsum of the cup) are all suitable. For the fetus lying OT at mid‐ or low‐cavity, or lying OP position mid‐cavity, Kielland’s forceps or vacuum devices can be used to correct the malposition. Manual rotation is another technique to consider. Low‐cavity direct OP positions can be delivered ‘face to pubis’ but this may cause signifcant perineal trauma as the occiput delivers. For this reason, an OP vacuum cup (with the suction tubing arising from the edge of the cup) may be preferred. The cup will promote flexion and late rotation to OA often occurs on the perineum just prior to delivery. The Kiwi OmniCup® is an all‐purpose disposable vacuum delivery system with a plastic cup and in‐built PalmPump™ suitable for use in all positions of the vertex. Later models also display force traction to help the accoucheur avoid cup slippage ( http://clinicalinnovations.com/portfolio‐items/kiwi‐complete‐vacuum‐delivery‐system/ ) Forceps delivery Forceps come in pairs and most have fenestrated blades with a cephalic and pelvic curve between the heel and toe (distal end) of each blade. The heel continues as a shank which ends in the handle. The handles of the two blades sit together and meet at the lock. The cephalic curve fits along either side of the fetal head with the blades lying on the maxilla or malar eminences in the line of the mento‐vertical diameter ( Fig. 26.8 a). When correctly attached, uniform pressure is applied to the head, with the main traction force applied over the malar eminences. The shanks are over the flexion point, allowing effective traction in the correct direction. Non‐rotational forceps (the longer‐handled Neville Barnes or Simpson, and the shorter‐handled Wrigley’s) have a distinct pelvic curve that allows the blades to lie in the line of the pelvic axis whilst the handles remain horizontal. Kielland’s forceps have a minimal pelvic curve to allow rotation within the pelvis to correct malposition. Fig. 26.8 (a) Malar forceps application showing mento‐vertical diameter; (b) forceps traction (Pajot’s manoeuvre). Prior to applying forceps, the blades should be assembled to check whether they fit together as a pair. All forceps have matching numbers imprinted on the handles or shanks and these should also be checked. Non‐rotational forceps can be applied when the vertex is no more than 45° either side of the direct OA position (i.e. right OA to left OA). Application and delivery in a direct OP position is also possible but not routinely recommended because of increased perineal trauma. The left blade is inserted first using a light ‘pencil grip’, negotiating the pelvic and cephalic curves with a curved movement of the blade between the fetal head and the operator’s right hand, which is kept along the left vaginal wall for protection. Hands are swapped to insert the right blade using the same technique. Correct application results in the handles lying horizontally, right on top of left, and locking should be easy. Before applying traction, correct application must be confirmed: (i) the sagittal suture is lying midline, equidistant from and parallel to the blades; (ii) the occiput is no more than 2–3 cm above the level of the shanks (i.e. head well‐flexed); and (iii) no more than a fingertip passes into the fenestration at the heel of the blade. From mid‐ and low‐cavity, Pajot’s maneouvre should be used, balancing outward traction with one hand with downward pressure on the shanks with the other ( Fig. 26.8 b, white arrow). The handles are kept horizontal to avoid trauma to the anterior vaginal wall from the toes of the blades. Traction is synchronized with contractions and maternal effort, and the resultant movement is outwards down the line of the pelvic axis until the head is crowning. An episiotomy is usually needed as the perineum stretches up. The direction of traction is now upwards once the biparietal eminences emerge under the pubic arch and the head is born by extension. The mother will usually ask to have her baby handed to her immediately (unless active resuscitation is required). After completing the third stage, any perineal trauma is repaired and a full surgical count completed. The procedure, including plans for analgesia and bladder care, should be fully documented. Rotational forceps Kielland’s forceps have a minimal pelvic curve allowing rotation of the head at mid‐cavity. They are powerful forceps requiring a skilled accoucheur who is willing to abandon the procedure if progress is not as expected. The number of units able to teach use of Kielland’s forceps to the point of independent practice is declining in the UK. The forceps should match and are applied so that the knobs on the handles face the fetal occiput. Kielland’s are used to correct both OT and OP positions using two methods of application. Direct application involves sliding each blade along the side of the head if space permits, and is more easily achieved with OP positions. Wandering application is useful in OT positions. The first blade is applied in front of the fetal face, from where it is gently ‘wandered’ around to lie in the usual position alongside the malar bone. The posterior blade is applied directly using the space in the pelvic sacral curve. If application is difficult or the blades do not easily lock, the procedure should be abandoned. Correct application should be confirmed. Once locked, it is essential to hold the handles at a relatively steep angle downwards in the line of the mid‐pelvic axis in order to achieve easy rotation. Asynclitism is corrected using the sliding lock, moving the shanks over each other until the knobs are aligned. Rotation should take place between contractions, using only gentle force. Rotation may require the fetal head to be gently disimpacted, either upwards or downwards but no more than 1‐cm displacement is needed. Correct application should be checked again after rotation. Traction should result in progressive descent and an episiotomy is usually required. At the point of delivery, the handles of Kielland’s are only just above the horizontal because of the lack of pelvic curve. If there is no descent with traction during three contractions with maternal effort, the procedure should be abandoned. Whether Kielland’s delivery takes place in the delivery room or in obstetric theatre requires careful assessment of fetal and maternal condition, analgesia and labour progress. If there is any doubt, a formal trial of forceps should be arranged. Vacuum delivery Ventouse or vacuum delivery is increasingly favoured over forceps delivery for similar indications in the second stage of labour. The prerequisites to be satisfied before vacuum delivery are the same as for all forms of IVD. Vacuum delivery is contraindicated below 34 +0 weeks and should be used with caution between 34 +0 to 36 +0 weeks [11] . Overall it is contraindicated for fetuses with possible haemorrhagic tendencies (risk of subgaleal haemorrhage) and before full dilatation [11] . Experienced practitioners may consider vacuum after 8 cm in a multigravid patient in some circumstances. There are many types of vacuum cup in regular use, made of different materials and of differing shapes. Whichever cup is used, the aim is to ensure that the centre of the cup is directly over the flexion point. The flexion point is 3 cm in front of the occiput in the midline and is the point where the mento‐vertical diameter exits the fetal skull [15] . Traction on this point promotes flexion, presenting the smallest diameters for descent through the pelvis: this is the optimum flexing median application ( Fig. 26.9 a). Other applications increase the risk of cup detachment, failed vacuum delivery and scalp trauma. In decreasing order of effectiveness, these are the flexing paramedian application ( Fig. 26.9 b), the deflexing median application ( Fig. 26.9 c) and the deflexing paramedian application ( Fig. 26.9 d). Fig. 26.9 Placement of the vacuum cup, from most favourable (a) to unfavourable (d). (a) Flexing median; (b) flexing paramedian; (c) deflexing median; (d) deflexing paramedian. It is vitally important to select the correct cup and this will vary depending on both the position and attitude of the fetus. The soft Silc, Silastic or anterior metal cups (where the tubing is attached on the dorsum of the cup) are not suitable for OT or OP positions, as their shape and configuration do not allow application over the flexion point. They are suitable for OA positions where the flexion point is accessible in the midline. Metal cups come in different sizes, usually 4, 5 or 6 cm in diameter. In a systematic review they were more likely to result in successful vaginal birth than soft cups (RR 1.63, 95% CI 1.17–2.28), but with more cases of scalp injury (RR 0.67, 95% CI 0.53–0.86) and cephalhaematoma (RR 0.61, 95% CI 0.39–0.95) [16] . A specially designed cup should be used for OT and OP positions: metal OP cups have tubing emerging from the lateral aspect of the cup and the Kiwi OmniCup has a groove in the dorsum of the cup to accommodate the flexible stem. These cups can be manoeuvred more laterally or posteriorly to reach the flexion point. Hand‐held vacuum is associated with more failures than metal ventouse [16] , although a larger study suggested that the OmniCup has an overall failure rate of 12.9% [11] . Aldo Vacca (1941–2014) was the doyen of vacuum delivery and (with reference to the flexion point and cup application) his favourite quote was ‘It’s always more posterior than you think’. After ensuring flexion point application, the cup must be held firmly on the fetal scalp, and a finger should be run around the rim to ensure that no maternal tissue is entrapped. A vacuum of 0.2 bar (150 mmHg or 0.2 kg/cm 2 negative pressure) is created using a hand‐held or mechanical pump, before rechecking the position over the flexion point and confirming maternal tissue is not trapped. The vacuum is increased to 0.7–0.8 bar (500–600 mmHg or 0.8 kg/cm 2 ) in one step, waiting 2 min where possible to develop the ‘chignon’ within the cup. Axial traction in the line of the pelvic axis should be timed with uterine contractions and maternal pushing. A thumb should be placed on the cup, with the index finger on the scalp at the edge of the cup allowing the operator to feel any potential detachment before it is heard (by which point it is often too late to prevent detachment). Descent promotes auto‐rotation of the head to the OA position and episiotomy is often not required. Parents should be reassured that the ‘chignon’ will settle over 2–3 days. Manual rotation Manual rotation for persistent OP position is an alternative to IVD. The procedure requires insertion of one hand into the posterior vagina to encourage flexion and rotation. Careful patient selection is essential and the operator must ensure that effective analgesia is in place. The right hand is inserted for a left OP position (insert left hand for right OP). Four fingers are placed behind the fetal occiput to act as the ‘gutter’ on which the head will rotate, with the thumb placed alongside the anterior fontanelle. When the mother pushes with a contraction, the thumb applies pressure to flex the head and rotation to an OA position should occur with minimal effort. In a series ( N  = 61) where OP position was managed in two groups, the spontaneous delivery rate increased from 27% to 77% in the group offered digital rotation ( P <0.0001) [17] . Complications of IVD In a Cochrane review of 32 studies ( N  = 6597), forceps were less likely to fail to achieve a vaginal birth compared with ventouse (RR 0.65, 95% CI 0.45–0.94) [16] . Vaginal and perineal lacerations, including third‐ and fourth‐degree tears, are more common with forceps than with vacuum. Infra‐levator haematomas may occur occasionally and these should be drained if large or symptomatic. The risk of flatus incontinence or altered continence is also higher. Follow‐up of women who have had low or outlet IVD confirms normal physical and neourological outcomes for the vast majority of the newborn. In terms of neonatal outcome, cephalhaematoma is more common with vacuum but risk of facial injury is less. Facial and scalp abrasions are usually minor and heal in a few days. Unilateral facial nerve palsy is rare and resolves within days or weeks and is not usually related to poor technique. Skull fracture is rare and most need no treatment unless depressed, when surgical elevation may be indicated. Vacuum delivery may result in retinal haemorrhages, haematoma confined to one of the skull bones and neonatal jaundice. Severe scalp lacerations imply poor technique and are fortunately rare. Subgaleal haemorrhage may cause minor or severe morbidity and rarely mortality [18] . In reviewing morbidity associated with IVD, it is important to remember that the alternative option of second‐stage CS is also associated with increased morbidity for both mother and baby. Safe practice: sequential intrumentation and trial of instrumental delivery For all IVDs, the procedure should be abandoned if there is ‘no evidence of progressive descent with moderate traction during each contraction, or where delivery is not imminent following three contractions of a correctly applied instrument by an experienced operator’ [11] . Sequential instrumentation is associated with increased neonatal morbidity and the decision to proceed must take into account the relative risks of delivery by second‐stage CS from deep in the pelvis. It can be difficult to judge whether to proceed with IVD, especially in cases with mid‐cavity malposition at the level of the ischial spines. In such cases a trial of instrumental delivery should be undertaken in theatre under regional anaesthesia, with the full theatre team and neonatal practitioner present. The estimated incidence of trial of instrumental delivery is 2–5%. It is vital to maintain awareness of the situation, with a clear willingness to abandon the attempt if progress is not as expected, proceeding immediately to CS. The couple should be advised of this strategy and appropriate consent obtained prior to the procedure, which should be undertaken by the most senior obstetrician available. In the presence of fetal compromise, it is prudent to consider delivery by emergency CS, rather than proceeding with a potentially difficult IVD. Paired cord blood samples should be taken and results recorded after every attempted IVD. Contemporary developments in IVD New methods are being developed to achieve IVD and include disposable plastic forceps with the ability to measure traction force (see http://www.medipex.co.uk/success‐stories/pro‐nata‐yorkshire‐obstetric‐forceps/ and Fig. 26.10 ) and the Odon device where traction is applied using a plastic bag placed around the fetal head and neck. This device is undergoing trials led by the World Health Organization (see http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/maternal_perinatal/odon_device/en/ ). Fig. 26.10 Pro‐Nata Yorkshire obstetric forceps. Reproduced with permission of Mark Jessup.

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Malpresentations and malpositions.

Published on 09/03/2015 by admin

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Introduction

Malpresentation.

Malposition

During pregnancy, abdominal palpation should aim to define the lie, presentation and position of the fetus. The lie refers to the long axis of the fetus in relation to the long axis of the uterus. Usually, the fetus is longitudinal, but occasionally it may be transverse or oblique. The presentation is that part of the fetus which is at the pelvic brim, in other words the part of the fetus presenting to the pelvic inlet. Normal presentation is the vertex of the fetal head and the word ‘malpresentation’ describes any non-vertex presentation. This may be of the face, brow, breech, or some other part of the body if the lie is oblique or transverse.

The position of the fetus refers to the way in which the presenting part is positioned in relation to the maternal pelvis. Strictly speaking this refers to any presenting part, but here it will be considered in relation to those fetuses presenting head first (cephalic). As we have seen, the head is usually occipitotransverse at the pelvic brim and rotates to occipitoanterior at the pelvic floor. ‘Malposition’ is when the head, coming vertex first, does not rotate to occipitoanterior, presenting instead as persistent occipitotransverse or occipitoposterior.

As described above, ‘malpresentation’ is a term used to describe any non-vertex presentation. Over 95% of fetuses are in cephalic presentation at term. Malpresentations include face presentation, brow presentation and breech presentation. When the fetus has a cephalic presentation, the presenting diameter is dependent on the degree of flexion or extension of the fetal head – deflexed and brow presentations offer a wide diameter to the pelvic inlet ( Table 45.1 and Fig. 45.1 ).

Presenting diameters of the fetal head

presenting diameter in brow presentation

Fig. 45.1 The presenting diameter is dependent on the degree of flexion or extension of the fetal head.

As the fetal skull is made up of individual bony plates (the occipital, sphenoid, temporal and ethmoid bones), which are joined by cartilaginous sutures (the frontal, sagittal, lambdoid and coronal sutures), it has the potential to be ‘moulded’ during labour. This allows the head to fit the birth canal more closely (Fig. 45.2) . Moulding should be distinguished from caput succedaneum, which refers to oedema of the presenting part of the scalp. Both moulding and caput can occur in any cephalic presentation, but are more likely to occur in malpresentation. The presence or absence of moulding and caput should be documented during each vaginal examination in labour; excessive moulding and caput are suggestive of an obstructed labour due to cephalopelvic disproportion.

presenting diameter in brow presentation

Fig. 45.2 ‘Moulding’ refers to the change in shape of the fetal skull during labour as it ‘moulds’ to the birth canal.

Caput refers to oedema of the presenting part of the scalp.

Face presentation

This occurs in about 1:500 births and occurs when the fetal head extends right back (hyperextended so that the occiput touches the fetal back) (Fig. 45.3 A) . It is associated with prematurity, tumours of the fetal neck, loops of cord around the fetal neck, fetal macrosomia and anencephaly. Face presentation is usually only recognized after the onset of labour and, if the face is swollen (Fig. 45.3 B) , it is easy to confuse this presentation with that of a breech. The position of the face is described with reference to the chin, using the prefix ‘mento’. The presenting diameter is submentobregmatic (9.5 cm) (Fig. 45.1) .

presenting diameter in brow presentation

Fig. 45.3 Face presentation.

(A) The head enters the pelvic brim in the transverse position. (B) Most rotate to the mentoanterior position and deliver without problems. (C) Those that rotate to mentoposterior will obstruct. (D) Face presentation is often associated with oedema and bruising. This baby recovered without problems.

The face usually enters the pelvis with the chin in the transverse position (mentotransverse) and 90% rotate to mentoanterior so that the head is born with flexion (Fig. 45.3 C) . If mentoposterior, the extending head presents an increasingly wider diameter to the pelvis, leading to worsening relative cephalopelvic disproportion and impacted obstruction (Fig. 45.3 D) . A caesarean section is usually required.

Brow presentation

This occurs in only approximately 1:700 and 1:1500 births and is the least favourable for delivery (Fig. 45.4) . The presenting diameter is mentovertical, measuring 14 cm. The supraorbital ridges and the bridge of the nose will be palpable on vaginal examination. The head may flex to become a vertex presentation or extend to a face presentation in early labour. If the brow presentation persists, a caesarean section will be required.

presenting diameter in brow presentation

Fig. 45.4 Brow presentation.

Breech presentation

Breech presentation describes a fetus presenting bottom first. The incidence is around 40% at 20 weeks, 25% at 32 weeks and only 3–4% at term. The chance of a breech presentation turning spontaneously after 38 weeks is < 4%. Breech presentation is associated with multiple pregnancy, bicornuate uterus, fibroids, placenta praevia, polyhydramnios and oligohydramnios. It may also rarely be associated with fetal anomaly, particularly neural tube defects, neuromuscular disorders and autosomal trisomies. At term, 65% of breech presentations are frank (extended) with the remainder being flexed or footling (Fig. 45.5) . Footling breech carries a 5–20% risk of cord prolapse ( p. 367 ).

presenting diameter in brow presentation

Fig. 45.5 Breech presentation.

Those presenting by the breech may be (A) extended (or frank); (B) flexed; or (C) footling.

Mode of delivery

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Labour and Delivery pp 99–105 Cite as

Face Presentation

  • Shubhra Agarwal 2 &
  • Suchitra Pandit 3  
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Face presentation is defined as a cephalic presentation in which the presenting part is face and it occurs due to factors that lead to extension of of fetal head. It is a rare obstetric presentation and may not be encountered even in the entire carrier of an obstetrician.

  • Face presentation
  • Active phase of labor
  • Prematurity
  • Deflexed head
  • Congenital malformations
  • Dolichocephalic skull
  • Mento-anterior
  • Crichton’s method

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Schwartz Z, Dgani R, Lancet M, Kessler I. Face presentation. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 1986;26:172–6.

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Westgren M, et al. Face presentation in modern obstetrics-a study with special reference to fetal long term morbidity. Z Geburtshilfe Perinatol. 1984;188(2):87–9.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, TMMC&RC, Moradabad, India

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Sarojini Naidu Medical College, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India

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Agarwal, S., Pandit, S. (2023). Face Presentation. In: Garg, R. (eds) Labour and Delivery. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-19-6145-8_6

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IMAGES

  1. Presenting diameter in different head attitudes ... (*) Bregma always

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COMMENTS

  1. Delivery, Face and Brow Presentation

    This is the presenting diameter in face presentation where the neck is hyperextended. ... Mechanism of Labor in Brow Presentation. As this presentation is considered unstable, it is usually converted into a face or an occiput presentation. Due to the cephalic diameter being wider than the maternal pelvis, the fetal head cannot engage; thus ...

  2. Face and brow presentations in labor

    The vast majority of fetuses at term are in cephalic presentation. Approximately 5 percent of these fetuses are in a cephalic malpresentation, such as occiput posterior or transverse, face ( figure 1A-B ), or brow ( figure 2) [ 1 ]. Diagnosis and management of face and brow presentations will be reviewed here.

  3. Face and Brow Presentation

    In the brow presentation, the occipitomental diameter, which is the largest diameter of the fetal head, is the presenting portion. Descent and internal rotation occur only with an adequate pelvis and if the face can fit under the pubic arch. While the head descends, it becomes wedged into the hollow of the sacrum.

  4. Management of malposition and malpresentation in labour

    Brow: brow presentation represents deflexion of the fetal head but not to the same degree as the complete extension causing a face presentation, with an incidence of approximately 1 in 2000 births. In a brow presentation, the presenting diameter is mento-vertical, at approximately 13 cm, and is therefore the most unfavourable of cephalic ...

  5. Delivery, Face and Brow Presentation

    This is the presenting diameter in face presentation where the neck is hyperextended. Submento-vertical: from the midpoint between fontanelles and the angle of the mandible, measuring 11.5cm Occipito-mental: from the midpoint between fontanelles and the tip of the chin, measuring 13.5 cm. It is the presenting diameter in brow presentation.

  6. Fetal Presentation, Position, and Lie (Including Breech Presentation)

    Breech presentation makes delivery difficult ,primarily because the presenting part is a poor dilating wedge. Having a poor dilating wedge can lead to incomplete cervical dilation, because the presenting part is narrower than the head that follows. The head, which is the part with the largest diameter, can then be trapped during delivery.

  7. 7.10 Brow presentation

    7.10.1 Diagnosis. 7.10.2 Management. Foetus alive. Foetus dead. Brow presentation constitutes an absolute foeto-pelvic disproportion, and vaginal delivery is impossible (except with preterm birth or extremely low birth weight). This is an obstetric emergency, because labour is obstructed and there is a risk of uterine rupture and foetal distress.

  8. Delivery, Face and Brow Presentation

    Incidence of face presentation is rare, accounting for approximately 1 in 600 of all presentations. In brow presentation, the neck is not extended as much as in face presentation, and the leading part is the area between the anterior fontanelle and the orbital ridges. ... This is the presenting diameter in face presentation where the neck is ...

  9. Presentation and Mechanisms of Labor

    Approximately two thirds of brow presentations will convert to vertex or face. 2 Fortunately, this is a rare presentation, ... Even if vaginal delivery of a mentum anterior presentation is attempted, the diameter of the presenting part may exceed the maternal pelvic capacity. A situation like this also would require an abdominal delivery.

  10. Brow Presentation

    Brow Presentation: Brow is a cephalic deflection malpresentation with the partially deflexed fetal head midway between complete flexion (vertex) and full extension (face) (Fig. 2 ). The frontal bone is the designated point for its position in maternal pelvis. On vaginal examination, the brow, orbits, and root of the nose are palpable.

  11. Face and brow presentations in labor

    Patients with a clinically adequate or proven pelvis can undergo a trial of labor since many brow presentations are transitional. In one review, when brow presentation was diagnosed early in labor, 67 to 75 percent of fetuses spontaneously converted to a more favorable presentation and delivered vaginally.

  12. Delivery, Face Presentation, and Brow Presentation ...

    Management: The management of brow presentation depends on various factors, such as cervical dilation, progress of labor, fetal size, and the presence of complications. Close monitoring, expert assessment, and a multidisciplinary approach may be necessary to determine the safest delivery method, which can include vaginal delivery with careful ...

  13. Malpresentation, Malposition, Cephalopelvic Disproportion and Obstetric

    Brow presentation. Brow presentation occurs in 1 in 1500-3000 deliveries. The head is partially deflexed (extended), with the largest diameter of the head presenting (mento‐vertical, 13.5 cm). The forehead is the lowest presenting part but diagnosis relies on identifying the prominent orbital ridges lying laterally.

  14. PDF Face, brow and shoulder presentations

    for face presentations. The positive diagnosis of brow presentation is normally made in labour when on vaginal examination the supraorbi­ tal ridges and anterior fontanelle are felt. The skull diameter attempt­ ing to engage is the mento-vertical, which is that extending from the point of the chin to the furthest point on the vault of the ...

  15. What Is Brow Presentation? What Are Its Complications?

    This is the ideal position that makes delivery easier as the baby's head will be in its smallest possible diameter in this presentation. This helps the baby to easily pass through the birth canal. However, not all presentations are as perfect as the head first presentation and brow presentation is one such complicated presentation of the baby.

  16. Malpositions and malpresentations of the fetal head

    In brow presentations, the head is deflexed and presents to the pelvis with the largest anteroposterior diameter (Figure 8). Many brow presentations in early labour are transient proceeding to complete extension (face) or flexion (vertex) as labour progresses. Download : Download high-res image (207KB) Download : Download full-size image; Figure 8.

  17. Malpresentations and malpositions

    The presenting diameter is mentovertical, measuring 14 cm. The supraorbital ridges and the bridge of the nose will be palpable on vaginal examination. The head may flex to become a vertex presentation or extend to a face presentation in early labour. If the brow presentation persists, a caesarean section will be required.

  18. Face Presentation

    The larger submentovertical diameter (11.5 cm) comes out of the introitus thereby increasing perineal injuries. 4. Attempts to convert face presentation to vertex manually or by forceps or version are not advised, because maternal and neonatal morbidity are increased and if not successful, it may lead to Brow presentation. 5.

  19. Malpositions and malpresentations of the fetal head

    Brow presentation. The incidence of brow is between 1 in 700 and 1 in 1500 deliveries. ... In brow presentations, the head is deflexed and presents to the pelvis with the largest anteroposterior diameter. Many brow presentations in early labour are transient proceeding to complete extension (face) or flexion (vertex) as labour progresses. ...