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1.  From Postpartum Haemorrhage Guideline to Local Protocol: A Study of Protocol Quality 
Maternal and Child Health Journal  2016;20(10):2160-2168.
Objective Postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) has a continuously rising incidence worldwide, suggesting suboptimal care. An important step in optimizing care is the translation of evidence-based guidelines into comprehensive hospital protocols. However, knowledge about the quality of these protocols is lacking. The objective of this study was to evaluate the quality of PPH-protocols on structure and content in the Netherlands. Methods We performed an observational multicenter study. Eighteen PPH-protocols from 3 University Hospitals (UH), 8 Teaching Hospitals (TH) and 7 Non-Teaching hospitals (NTH) throughout the Netherlands were acquired. The structure of the PPH-protocols was assessed using the Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation (AGREE-II) Instrument. The content was appraised using previously developed quality indicators, based on international guidelines and Advance-Trauma-Life-Support (ATLS)-based course instructions. Results The quality of the protocols for postpartum hemorrhage for both structure and content varied widely between different hospitals, but all of them showed room for improvement. The protocols scored mainly below average on the different items of the AGREE-II instrument (8 of the 10 items scored <4 on a 1–7 scale). Regarding the content, adoption of guideline recommendations in protocols was 46 %. In addition, a timely indication of ‘when to perform’ a recommendation was lacking in three-fourths of the items. Conclusion This study shows that the quality of the PPH-protocols for both structure and content in the Netherlands is suboptimal. This makes adherence to the guideline and ATLS-based course instructions difficult.
doi:10.1007/s10995-016-2050-9
PMCID: PMC5025494  PMID: 27395381
Health care quality access and evaluation; Guideline adherence; Postpartum hemorrhage; Clinical protocols
2.  Early nasogastric tube feeding in optimising treatment for hyperemesis gravidarum: the MOTHER randomised controlled trial (Maternal and Offspring outcomes after Treatment of HyperEmesis by Refeeding) 
Background
Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), or intractable vomiting during pregnancy, is the single most frequent cause of hospital admission in early pregnancy. HG has a major impact on maternal quality of life and has repeatedly been associated with poor pregnancy outcome such as low birth weight. Currently, women with HG are admitted to hospital for intravenous fluid replacement, without receiving specific nutritional attention. Nasogastric tube feeding is sometimes used as last resort treatment. At present no randomised trials on dietary or rehydration interventions have been performed. Small observational studies indicate that enteral tube feeding may have the ability to effectively treat dehydration and malnutrition and alleviate nausea and vomiting symptoms. We aim to evaluate the effectiveness of early enteral tube feeding in addition to standard care on nausea and vomiting symptoms and pregnancy outcomes in HG patients.
Methods/Design
The MOTHER trial is a multicentre open label randomised controlled trial (www.studies-obsgyn.nl/mother). Women ≥ 18 years hospitalised for HG between 5 + 0 and 19 + 6 weeks gestation are eligible for participation. After informed consent participants are randomly allocated to standard care with intravenous rehydration or early enteral tube feeding in addition to standard care. All women keep a weekly diary to record symptoms and dietary intake until 20 weeks gestation. The primary outcome will be neonatal birth weight. Secondary outcomes will be the 24-h Pregnancy Unique Quantification of Emesis and nausea score (PUQE-24), maternal weight gain, dietary intake, duration of hospital stay, number of readmissions, quality of life and side-effects. Also gestational age at birth, placental weight, umbilical cord plasma lipid concentration and neonatal morbidity will be evaluated. Analysis will be according to the intention to treat principle.
Discussion
With this trial we aim to clarify whether early enteral tube feeding is more effective in treating HG than intravenous rehydration alone and improves pregnancy outcome.
Trial registration
Trial registration number: NTR4197. Date of registration: October 2nd 2013.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12884-016-0815-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12884-016-0815-1
PMCID: PMC4730616  PMID: 26819104
Hyperemesis; Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy; Tube feeding; Intravenous rehydration; Effectiveness; Outcomes
3.  Predictive Factors for Delivery within 7 Days after Successful 48-Hour Treatment of Threatened Preterm Labor 
AJP Reports  2015;5(2):e141-e149.
Objective The aim of this study was to assess which characteristics and results of vaginal examination are predictive for delivery within 7 days, in women with threatened preterm labor after initial treatment.
Study Design A secondary analysis of a randomized controlled trial on maintenance nifedipine includes women who remained undelivered after threatened preterm labor for 48 hours. We developed one model for women with premature prelabor rupture of membranes (PPROM) and one without PPROM. The predictors were identified by backward selection. We assessed calibration and discrimination and used bootstrapping techniques to correct for potential overfitting.
Results For women with PPROM (model 1), nulliparity, history of preterm birth, and vaginal bleeding were included in the multivariable analysis. For women without PPROM (model 2), maternal age, vaginal bleeding, cervical length, and fetal fibronectin (fFN) status were in the multivariable analysis. Discriminative capability was moderate to good (c-statistic 0.68; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.60–0.77 for model 1 and 0.89; 95% CI, 0.84–0.93 for model 2).
Conclusion PPROM and vaginal bleeding in the current pregnancy are relevant predictive factors in all women, as are maternal age, cervical length, and fFN in women without PPROM and nulliparity, history of preterm birth in women with PPROM.
doi:10.1055/s-0035-1552930
PMCID: PMC4603845  PMID: 26495173
predictive factors; preterm delivery; maintenance tocolysis
4.  Patient controlled analgesia with remifentanil versus epidural analgesia in labour: randomised multicentre equivalence trial 
Objective To determine women’s satisfaction with pain relief using patient controlled analgesia with remifentanil compared with epidural analgesia during labour.
Design Multicentre randomised controlled equivalence trial.
Setting 15 hospitals in the Netherlands.
Participants Women with an intermediate to high obstetric risk with an intention to deliver vaginally. To exclude a clinically relevant difference in satisfaction with pain relief of more than 10%, we needed to include 1136 women. Because of missing values for satisfaction this number was increased to 1400 before any analysis. We used multiple imputation to correct for missing data.
Intervention Before the onset of active labour consenting women were randomised to a pain relief strategy with patient controlled remifentanil or epidural analgesia if they requested pain relief during labour.
Main outcome measures Primary outcome was satisfaction with pain relief, measured hourly on a visual analogue scale and expressed as area under the curve (AUC), thus providing a time weighted measure of total satisfaction with pain relief. A higher AUC represents higher satisfaction with pain relief. Secondary outcomes were pain intensity scores, mode of delivery, and maternal and neonatal outcomes. Analysis was done by intention to treat. The study was defined as an equivalence study for the primary outcome.
Results 1414 women were randomised, of whom 709 were allocated to patient controlled remifentanil and 705 to epidural analgesia. Baseline characteristics were comparable. Pain relief was ultimately used in 65% (447/687) in the remifentanil group and 52% (347/671) in the epidural analgesia group (relative risk 1.32, 95% confidence interval 1.18 to 1.48). Cross over occurred in 7% (45/687) and 8% (51/671) of women, respectively. Of women primarily treated with remifentanil, 13% (53/402) converted to epidural analgesia, while in women primarily treated with epidural analgesia 1% (3/296) converted to remifentanil. The area under the curve for total satisfaction with pain relief was 30.9 in the remifentanil group versus 33.7 in the epidural analgesia group (mean difference −2.8, 95% confidence interval −6.9 to 1.3). For who actually received pain relief the area under the curve for satisfaction with pain relief after the start of pain relief was 25.6 in the remifentanil group versus 36.1 in the epidural analgesia group (mean difference −10.4, −13.9 to −7.0). The rate of caesarean section was 15% in both groups. Oxygen saturation was significantly lower (SpO2 <92%) in women who used remifentanil (relative risk 1.5, 1.4 to 1.7). Maternal and neonatal outcomes were comparable between both groups.
Conclusion In women in labour, patient controlled analgesia with remifentanil is not equivalent to epidural analgesia with respect to scores on satisfaction with pain relief. Satisfaction with pain relief was significantly higher in women who were allocated to and received epidural analgesia.
Trial registration Netherlands Trial Register NTR2551.
doi:10.1136/bmj.h846
PMCID: PMC4353278  PMID: 25713015
5.  Patient controlled analgesia with remifentanil versus epidural analgesia in labour: randomised multicentre equivalence trial 
The BMJ  2015;350:h846.
Objective To determine women’s satisfaction with pain relief using patient controlled analgesia with remifentanil compared with epidural analgesia during labour.
Design Multicentre randomised controlled equivalence trial.
Setting 15 hospitals in the Netherlands.
Participants Women with an intermediate to high obstetric risk with an intention to deliver vaginally. To exclude a clinically relevant difference in satisfaction with pain relief of more than 10%, we needed to include 1136 women. Because of missing values for satisfaction this number was increased to 1400 before any analysis. We used multiple imputation to correct for missing data.
Intervention Before the onset of active labour consenting women were randomised to a pain relief strategy with patient controlled remifentanil or epidural analgesia if they requested pain relief during labour.
Main outcome measures Primary outcome was satisfaction with pain relief, measured hourly on a visual analogue scale and expressed as area under the curve (AUC), thus providing a time weighted measure of total satisfaction with pain relief. A higher AUC represents higher satisfaction with pain relief. Secondary outcomes were pain intensity scores, mode of delivery, and maternal and neonatal outcomes. Analysis was done by intention to treat. The study was defined as an equivalence study for the primary outcome.
Results 1414 women were randomised, of whom 709 were allocated to patient controlled remifentanil and 705 to epidural analgesia. Baseline characteristics were comparable. Pain relief was ultimately used in 65% (447/687) in the remifentanil group and 52% (347/671) in the epidural analgesia group (relative risk 1.32, 95% confidence interval 1.18 to 1.48). Cross over occurred in 7% (45/687) and 8% (51/671) of women, respectively. Of women primarily treated with remifentanil, 13% (53/402) converted to epidural analgesia, while in women primarily treated with epidural analgesia 1% (3/296) converted to remifentanil. The area under the curve for total satisfaction with pain relief was 30.9 in the remifentanil group versus 33.7 in the epidural analgesia group (mean difference −2.8, 95% confidence interval −6.9 to 1.3). For who actually received pain relief the area under the curve for satisfaction with pain relief after the start of pain relief was 25.6 in the remifentanil group versus 36.1 in the epidural analgesia group (mean difference −10.4, −13.9 to −7.0). The rate of caesarean section was 15% in both groups. Oxygen saturation was significantly lower (SpO2 <92%) in women who used remifentanil (relative risk 1.5, 1.4 to 1.7). Maternal and neonatal outcomes were comparable between both groups.
Conclusion In women in labour, patient controlled analgesia with remifentanil is not equivalent to epidural analgesia with respect to scores on satisfaction with pain relief. Satisfaction with pain relief was significantly higher in women who were allocated to and received epidural analgesia.
Trial registration Netherlands Trial Register NTR2551.
doi:10.1136/bmj.h846
PMCID: PMC4353278  PMID: 25713015
6.  Midtrimester preterm prelabour rupture of membranes (PPROM): expectant management or amnioinfusion for improving perinatal outcomes (PPROMEXIL – III trial) 
Background
Babies born after midtrimester preterm prelabour rupture of membranes (PPROM) are at risk to develop neonatal pulmonary hypoplasia. Perinatal mortality and morbidity after this complication is high. Oligohydramnios in the midtrimester following PPROM is considered to cause a delay in lung development. Repeated transabdominal amnioinfusion with the objective to alleviate oligohydramnios might prevent this complication and might improve neonatal outcome.
Methods/Design
Women with PPROM and persisting oligohydramnios between 16 and 24 weeks gestational age will be asked to participate in a multi-centre randomised controlled trial. Intervention: random allocation to (repeated) abdominal amnioinfusion (intervention) or expectant management (control). The primary outcome is perinatal mortality. Secondary outcomes are lethal pulmonary hypoplasia, non-lethal pulmonary hypoplasia, survival till discharge from NICU, neonatal mortality, chronic lung disease (CLD), number of days ventilatory support, necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), periventricular leucomalacia (PVL) more than grade I, severe intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) more than grade II, proven neonatal sepsis, gestational age at delivery, time to delivery, indication for delivery, successful amnioinfusion, placental abruption, cord prolapse, chorioamnionitis, fetal trauma due to puncture. The study will be evaluated according to intention to treat. To show a decrease in perinatal mortality from 70% to 35%, we need to randomise two groups of 28 women (two sided test, β-error 0.2 and α-error 0.05).
Discussion
This study will answer the question if (repeated) abdominal amnioinfusion after midtrimester PPROM with associated oligohydramnios improves perinatal survival and prevents pulmonary hypoplasia and other neonatal morbidities. Moreover, it will assess the risks associated with this procedure.
Trial registration
NTR3492 Dutch Trial Register (http://www.trialregister.nl).
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-128
PMCID: PMC3997228  PMID: 24708702
PPROM; Oligohydramnios; Amnioinfusion; Perinatal mortality; Pulmonary hypoplasia
7.  Nifedipine versus atosiban in the treatment of threatened preterm labour (Assessment of Perinatal Outcome after Specific Tocolysis in Early Labour: APOSTEL III-Trial) 
Background
Preterm birth is the most common cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality. Postponing delivery for 48 hours with tocolytics to allow for maternal steroid administration and antenatal transportation to a centre with neonatal intensive care unit facilities is the standard treatment for women with threatening preterm delivery in most centres. However, there is controversy as to which tocolytic agent is the drug of first choice. Previous trials have focused on tocolytic efficacy and side effects, and are probably underpowered to detect clinically meaningfull differences in neonatal outcome. Thus, the current evidence is inconclusive to support a balanced recommendation for clinical practice. This multicenter randomised clinical trial aims to compare nifedipine and atosiban in terms of neonatal outcome, duration of pregnancy and maternal side effects.
Methods/Design
The Apostel III trial is a nationwide multicenter randomised controlled study. Women with threatened preterm labour (gestational age 25 – 34 weeks) defined as at least 3 contractions per 30 minutes, and 1) a cervical length of ≤ 10 mm or 2) a cervical length of 11-30 mm and a positive Fibronectin test or 3) ruptured membranes will be randomly allocated to treatment with nifedipine or atosiban. Primary outcome is a composite measure of severe neonatal morbidity and mortality. Secondary outcomes will be time to delivery, gestational age at delivery, days on ventilation support, neonatal intensive care (NICU) admittance, length admission in neonatal intensive care, total days in hospital until 3 months corrected age, convulsions, apnoea, asphyxia, proven meningitis, pneumothorax, maternal side effects and costs. Furthermore, an economic evaluation of the treatment will be performed. Analysis will be by intention to treat principle. The power calculation is based on an expected 10% difference in the prevalence of adverse neonatal outcome. This implies that 500 women have to be randomised (two sided test, β 0.2 at alpha 0.05).
Discussion
This trial will provide evidence on the optimal drug of choice in acute tocolysis in threatening preterm labour.
Trial registration
Clinical trial registration: NTR2947, date of registration: June 20th 2011.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-93
PMCID: PMC3944539  PMID: 24589124
Preterm birth; Tocolytics; Nifedipine; Atosiban; Outcome; Drug safety
10.  Subsequent Pregnancy after Preterm Prelabor Rupture of Membranes before 27 Weeks' Gestation 
AJP Reports  2013;3(2):113-118.
Objective Midtrimester preterm prelabor rupture of membranes (PPROM) has a high rate of neonatal mortality and morbidity. The aim of this study was to study outcomes of subsequent pregnancies after a pregnancy with PPROM before 27 weeks' gestation.
Study Design Retrospective study of subsequent pregnancies of women who suffered PPROM before 27 weeks' gestation from 1994 to 2009. The main outcome measure was the risk of recurrence of PPROM before 27 weeks' gestation. The authors also studied preterm birth and pregnancy outcome in the subsequent pregnancy. Finally, they assessed associative factors for subsequent premature delivery.
Results They identified 307 patients, of whom 118 women had a subsequent pregnancy. Of 99 women with complete outcome data, 9 women (9%) had PPROM before 27 weeks' gestation in a subsequent pregnancy and 35 women (35%) had a preterm delivery. In 58 (59%) of pregnancies no major complications occurred. They found three associative factors for premature delivery in a subsequent pregnancy: negative vaginal culture for Group B streptococcus, increasing maternal age and early gestational age at PPROM in the index pregnancy.
Conclusions Women with PPROM before 27 weeks have a 9% recurrence risk of early PPROM and a risk of 35% of having a preterm delivery in a subsequent pregnancy.
doi:10.1055/s-0033-1353389
PMCID: PMC3799705  PMID: 24147248
preterm rupture of membranes; recurrence; preterm birth
11.  Cardiovascular risk estimation in women with a history of hypertensive pregnancy disorders at term: a longitudinal follow-up study 
Background
Cardiovascular disease is associated with major morbidity and mortality in women in the Western world. Prediction of an individual cardiovascular disease risk in young women is difficult. It is known that women with hypertensive pregnancy complications have an increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease in later life and pregnancy might be used as a cardiovascular stress test to identify women who are at high risk for cardiovascular disease. In this study we assess the possibility of long term cardiovascular risk prediction in women with a history of hypertensive pregnancy disorders at term.
Methods
In a longitudinal follow-up study, between June 2008 and November 2010, 300 women with a history of hypertensive pregnancy disorders at term (HTP cohort) and 94 women with a history of normotensive pregnancies at term (NTP cohort) were included. From the cardiovascular risk status that was known two years after index pregnancy we calculated individual (extrapolated) 10-and 30-year cardiovascular event risks using four different risk prediction models including the Framingham risk score, the SCORE score and the Reynolds risk score. Continuous data were analyzed using the Student’s T test and Mann–Whitney U test and categorical data by the Chi-squared test. A poisson regression analysis was performed to calculate the incidence risk ratios and corresponding 95% confidence intervals for the different cardiovascular risk estimation categories.
Results
After a mean follow-up of 2.5 years, HTP women had significantly higher mean (SD) extrapolated 10-year cardiovascular event risks (HTP 7.2% (3.7); NTP 4.4% (1.9) (p<.001, IRR 5.8, 95% CI 1.9 to 19)) and 30-year cardiovascular event risks (HTP 11% (7.6); NTP 7.3% (3.5) (p<.001, IRR 2.7, 95% CI 1.6 to 4.5)) as compared to NTP women calculated by the Framingham risk scores. The SCORE score and the Reynolds risk score showed similar significant results.
Conclusions
Women with a history of gestational hypertension or preeclampsia at term have higher predicted (extrapolated) 10-year and 30-year cardiovascular event risks as compared to women with a history of uncomplicated pregnancies. Further large prospective studies have to evaluate whether hypertensive pregnancy disorders have to be included as an independent variable in cardiovascular risk prediction models for women.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-126
PMCID: PMC3680191  PMID: 23734952
Cardiovascular risk; Cardiovascular risk prediction; Follow-up study; Gestational hypertension; Preeclampsia
12.  Induction of labour with a Foley catheter or oral misoprostol at term: the PROBAAT-II study, a multicentre randomised controlled trial 
Background
Induction of labour is a common obstetric procedure. At present, different methods are used for induction of labour in women with an unfavourable cervix. Recently, we showed that in term women with an unfavorable cervix the use of a Foley catheter in comparison with vaginal Prostaglandin E2 gel, results in a comparable vaginal delivery rate. A meta-analysis on the subject indicated lower rates of hyperstimulation, and probably as a sequel fewer cases of postpartum haemorrhage. Misoprostol (PgE1) is another type of prostaglandin frequently used for labour induction, recommended by the international federation of gynaecology and obstetrics (FIGO). Misoprostol can be administered by vaginal, rectal and oral route. There is evidence that oral administration results in less asphyxia and hyperstimulation than vaginal administration. At present, valid comparisons between oral misoprostol and Foley catheter are lacking. Therefore, we propose a randomised controlled trial comparing Foley catheter to oral misoprostol in order to assess safety and cost-effectiveness.
Methods/Design
We plan a multicentre, randomised, controlled, open-label clinical trial among term pregnant women with a vital singleton in cephalic presentation, unfavorable cervix, intact membranes and an indication for induction of labour. After informed consent, women will be randomly allocated by a webbased randomisation system to transcervical Foley catheter or oral misoprostol (50 mcg every 4 hours). The primary outcome will be a composite of complications of uterine hyperstimulation, i.e. post partum haemorrhage and asphyxia. Secondary outcomes are mode of delivery, maternal and neonatal morbidity, costs and women’s preference. Serious adverse events such as severe maternal or neonatal morbitity or mortality will be monitored and reported to an independent data safety monitory board. With a sample size of 1860 women we will be able to demonstrate a 5% non-inferiority of the Foley catheter as compared to misoprostol for the composite outcome.
Discussion
Worldwide, various methods are being used for labour induction. Results of the proposed trial will contribute to the answer which method of induction of labour is most safe, cost-effective, and patient friendly and will help to construct evidence based guidelines.
Trial registration
The Netherlands Trial Register NTR3466
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-67
PMCID: PMC3610263  PMID: 23506128
Induction of labour; Oral misoprostol; Foley catheter; Asphyxia; Post partum haemorrhage; Hyperstimulation; Bishop score; Unfavourable cervix
13.  Risk Factors for Cesarean Delivery following Labor Induction in Multiparous Women 
Journal of Pregnancy  2013;2013:820892.
Objective. To identify potential risk factors for cesarean delivery following labor induction in multiparous women at term. Methods. We conducted a retrospective case-control study. Cases were parous women in whom the induction of labor had resulted in a cesarean delivery. For each case, we used the data of two successful inductions as controls. Successful induction was defined as a vaginal delivery after the induction of labor. The study was limited to term singleton pregnancies with a child in cephalic position. Results. Between 1995 and 2010, labor was induced in 2548 parous women, of whom 80 had a cesarean delivery (3%). These 80 cases were compared to the data of 160 parous women with a successful induction of labor. In the multivariate analysis history of preterm delivery (odds ratio (OR) 5.3 (95% CI 1.1 to 25)), maternal height (OR 0.87 (95% CI 0.80 to 0.95)) and dilatation at the start of induction (OR 0.43 (95% CI 0.19 to 0.98)) were associated with failed induction. Conclusion. In multiparous women, the risk of cesarean delivery following labor induction increases with previous preterm delivery, short maternal height, and limited dilatation at the start of induction.
doi:10.1155/2013/820892
PMCID: PMC3556868  PMID: 23365754
14.  SIMPLE: implementation of recommendations from international evidence-based guidelines on caesarean sections in the Netherlands. Protocol for a controlled before and after study 
Background
Caesarean section (CS) rates are rising worldwide. In the Netherlands, the most significant rise is observed in healthy women with a singleton in vertex position between 37 and 42 weeks gestation, whereas it is doubtful whether an improved outcome for the mother or her child was obtained. It can be hypothesized that evidence-based guidelines on CS are not implemented sufficiently.
Therefore, the present study has the following objectives: to develop quality indicators on the decision to perform a CS based on key recommendations from national and international guidelines; to use the quality indicators in order to gain insight into actual adherence of Dutch gynaecologists to guideline recommendations on the performance of a CS; to explore barriers and facilitators that have a direct effect on guideline application regarding CS; and to develop, execute, and evaluate a strategy in order to reduce the CS incidence for a similar neonatal outcome (based on the information gathered in the second and third objectives).
Methods
An independent expert panel of Dutch gynaecologists and midwives will develop a set of quality indicators on the decision to perform a CS. These indicators will be used to measure current care in 20 hospitals with a population of 1,000 women who delivered by CS, and a random selection of 1,000 women who delivered vaginally in the same period. Furthermore, by interviewing healthcare professionals and patients, the barriers and facilitators that may influence the decision to perform a CS will be measured. Based on the results, a tailor-made implementation strategy will be developed and tested in a controlled before-and-after study in 12 hospitals (six intervention, six control hospitals) with regard to effectiveness, experiences, and costs.
Discussion
This study will offer insight into the current CS care and into the hindering and facilitating factors influencing obstetrical policy on CS. Furthermore, it will allow definition of patient categories or situations in which a tailor-made implementation strategy will most likely be meaningful and cost effective, without negatively affecting the outcome for mother and child.
Trial registration
http://www.clinicaltrials.gov: NCT01261676
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-8-3
PMCID: PMC3547819  PMID: 23281646
15.  Remifentanil patient controlled analgesia versus epidural analgesia in labour. A multicentre randomized controlled trial 
Background
Pain relief during labour is a topic of major interest in the Netherlands. Epidural analgesia is considered to be the most effective method of pain relief and recommended as first choice. However its uptake by pregnant women is limited compared to other western countries, partly as a result of non-availability due to logistic problems. Remifentanil, a synthetic opioid, is very suitable for patient controlled analgesia. Recent studies show that epidural analgesia is superior to remifentanil patient controlled analgesia in terms of pain intensity score; however there was no difference in satisfaction with pain relief between both treatments.
Methods/design
The proposed study is a multicentre randomized controlled study that assesses the cost-effectiveness of remifentanil patient controlled analgesia compared to epidural analgesia. We hypothesize that remifentanil patient controlled analgesia is as effective in improving pain appreciation scores as epidural analgesia, with lower costs and easier achievement of 24 hours availability of pain relief for women in labour and efficient pain relief for those with a contraindication for epidural analgesia.
Eligible women will be informed about the study and randomized before active labour has started. Women will be randomly allocated to a strategy based on epidural analgesia or on remifentanil patient controlled analgesia when they request pain relief during labour. Primary outcome is the pain appreciation score, i.e. satisfaction with pain relief.
Secondary outcome parameters are costs, patient satisfaction, pain scores (pain-intensity), mode of delivery and maternal and neonatal side effects.
The economic analysis will be performed from a short-term healthcare perspective. For both strategies the cost of perinatal care for mother and child, starting at the onset of labour and ending ten days after delivery, will be registered and compared.
Discussion
This study, considering cost effectiveness of remifentanil as first choice analgesia versus epidural analgesia, could strongly improve the care for 180.000 women, giving birth in the Netherlands yearly by giving them access to pain relief during labour, 24 hours a day.
Trial registration number
Dutch Trial Register NTR2551, http://www.trialregister.nl
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-63
PMCID: PMC3464937  PMID: 22748068
Analgesia; Labour; Remifentanil; Patient controlled analgesia; Epidural
17.  Induction of Labor versus Expectant Management in Women with Preterm Prelabor Rupture of Membranes between 34 and 37 Weeks: A Randomized Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(4):e1001208.
In a randomized controlled trial David van der Ham and colleagues investigate induction of labor versus expectant management for women with preterm prelabor rupture of membranes.
Background
At present, there is insufficient evidence to guide appropriate management of women with preterm prelabor rupture of membranes (PPROM) near term.
Methods and Findings
We conducted an open-label randomized controlled trial in 60 hospitals in The Netherlands, which included non-laboring women with >24 h of PPROM between 34+0 and 37+0 wk of gestation. Participants were randomly allocated in a 1∶1 ratio to induction of labor (IoL) or expectant management (EM) using block randomization. The main outcome was neonatal sepsis. Secondary outcomes included mode of delivery, respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), and chorioamnionitis. Patients and caregivers were not blinded to randomization status. We updated a prior meta-analysis on the effect of both interventions on neonatal sepsis, RDS, and cesarean section rate.
From 1 January 2007 to 9 September 2009, 776 patients in 60 hospitals were eligible for the study, of which 536 patients were randomized. Four patients were excluded after randomization. We allocated 266 women (268 neonates) to IoL and 266 women (270 neonates) to EM. Neonatal sepsis occurred in seven (2.6%) newborns of women in the IoL group and in 11 (4.1%) neonates in the EM group (relative risk [RR] 0.64; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.25 to 1.6). RDS was seen in 21 (7.8%, IoL) versus 17 neonates (6.3%, EM) (RR 1.3; 95% CI 0.67 to 2.3), and a cesarean section was performed in 36 (13%, IoL) versus 37 (14%, EM) women (RR 0.98; 95% CI 0.64 to 1.50). The risk for chorioamnionitis was reduced in the IoL group. No serious adverse events were reported.
Updating an existing meta-analysis with our trial results (the only eligible trial for the update) indicated RRs of 1.06 (95% CI 0.64 to 1.76) for neonatal sepsis (eight trials, 1,230 neonates) and 1.27 (95% CI 0.98 to 1.65) for cesarean section (eight trials, 1,222 women) for IoL compared with EM.
Conclusions
In women whose pregnancy is complicated by late PPROM, neither our trial nor the updated meta-analysis indicates that IoL substantially improves pregnancy outcomes compared with EM.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN29313500
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Most pregnancies last around 40 weeks, but in industrialized countries, 5%–10% of babies are born before 37 weeks of gestation (gestation is the period during which a baby develops in its mother's womb). Premature birth is a major cause of infant death in many developed countries, and preterm babies can also have short- and/or long-term health problems such as breathing problems, increased susceptibility to life-threatening infections, and learning and developmental disabilities. There are many reasons why some babies are born prematurely, but preterm prelabor rupture of the membranes (PPROM) accounts for 30%–40% of preterm deliveries. Inside the womb, the baby is held in a fluid-filled bag called the amniotic sac. The amniotic fluid cushions the baby, helps some of its organs develop, and protects both mother and baby from infection. The membranes that form the sac usually break at the start of labor (“water breaking”), but in PPROM, the membranes break before the baby is fully grown. PPROM increases the mother's risk of a womb infection called chorioamnionitis and the baby's risk of neonatal sepsis (blood infection), and can trigger early labor.
Why Was This Study Done?
There is currently no consensus on how to manage women whose membranes rupture between 34 and 37 weeks' gestation. Some guidelines recommend immediate induction of labor if PPROM occurs at or beyond 34 weeks' gestation. Others recommend that labor not be induced unless the mother develops signs of infection such as a high temperature or has not delivered her baby spontaneously by 37 weeks' gestation (expectant management). Before 34 weeks' gestation, expectant management is generally recommended. In this randomized controlled trial, the researchers compare the effects of induction of labor and of expectant management on the rate of neonatal sepsis (the proportion of babies that develop neonatal sepsis; the trial's primary outcome) and on secondary outcomes such as the rates of neonatal respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), cesarean section (surgical delivery), and chorioamnionitis in women with PPROM between 34 and 37 weeks' gestation. The researchers also undertake a meta-analysis of published trials on the effect of both interventions on pregnancy outcomes. A randomized controlled trial compares the effects of different interventions in groups of individuals chosen through the play of chance; meta-analysis is a statistical approach that combines the results of several trials.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In the PPROM Expectant Management versus Induction of Labor (PRROMEXIL) trial, 532 non-laboring women with PPROM between 34 and 37 weeks' gestation were randomly assigned to either immediate induction of labor or expectant management. Neonatal sepsis occurred in seven babies born to women in the induction of labor group and in 11 babies born to women in the expectant management group. This difference was not statistically significant. That is, it could have happened by chance. Similarly, although more babies born to women in the induction of labor group than in the expectant management group developed RDS (21 and 17 babies, respectively), this difference was not significant. Cesarean section rates were similar in both intervention groups, but the risk of chorioamnionitis was slightly reduced in the induction of labor group compared to the expectant management group. Finally, the researchers' meta-analysis (which included these new results) found no significant differences in the risk of neonatal sepsis, RDS, or cesarean section associated with the two interventions.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that, compared to expectant management, induction of labor did not reduce the incidence of neonatal sepsis in pregnancies complicated by PPROM between 34 and 37 weeks' gestation. However, because fewer babies than expected born to the women in the expectant management group developed neonatal sepsis, this trial was underpowered. That is, too few women were enrolled in the trial to enable the detection of a small difference between the interventions in the neonatal sepsis rate. These findings also show that induction of labor did not substantially affect most of the secondary outcomes measured by the researchers. Given these results and those of their meta-analysis, the researchers conclude that, in women whose pregnancy is complicated by PPROM late in pregnancy, induction of labor does not substantially improve the outcome for either the woman or her baby compared to expectant management.
Additional Information
Please access these web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001208.
The March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health, provides information on preterm birth (in English and Spanish); its News Moms Need blog contains a post on PPROM
Tommy's is a nonprofit organization that funds research and provides information on the causes and prevention of miscarriage, premature birth, and stillbirth
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists guidelines on the diagnosis, investigation, and management of PPROM are available (in English and Russian)
Information about the PPROMEXIL trial is available
Personal stories about PPROM are available on the Austprem web site, a non-profit organization that provides information about prematurity and support for parents of premature babies in Australia
MedlinePlus provides links to other information on premature babies (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001208
PMCID: PMC3335867  PMID: 22545024
18.  Preventing preterm birth with progesterone: costs and effects of screening low risk women with a singleton pregnancy for short cervical length, the Triple P study 
Background
Women with a short cervical length in mid-trimester pregnancy have a higher risk of preterm birth and therefore a higher rate of neonatal mortality and morbidity. Progesterone can potentially decrease the number of preterm births and lower neonatal mortality and morbidity. Previous studies showed good results of progesterone in women with either a history of preterm birth or a short cervix. However, it is unknown whether screening for a short cervix and subsequent treatment in mid trimester pregnancy is effective in low risk women.
Methods/Design
We plan a combined screen and treat study among women with a singleton pregnancy without a previous preterm birth. In these women, we will measure cervical length at the standard anomaly scan performed between 18 and 22 weeks. Women with cervical length ≤ 30 mm at two independent measurements will be randomly allocated to receive either vaginal progesterone tablets or placebo between 22 and 34 weeks. The primary outcome of this trial is adverse neonatal condition, defined as a composite outcome of neonatal mortality and severe morbidity. Secondary outcomes are time to delivery, preterm birth rate before 32, 34 and 37 weeks, days of admission in neonatal intensive care unit, maternal morbidity, maternal admission days for preterm labour and costs. We will assess growth, physical condition and neurodevelopmental outcome of the children at two years of age.
Discussion
This study will provide evidence for the usefulness and cost-effectiveness of screening for short cervical length at the 18-22 weeks and subsequent progesterone treatment among low risk women.
Trial registration
Netherlands Trial Register (NTR): NTR207
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-11-77
PMCID: PMC3214137  PMID: 22023876
19.  Induction of labour versus expectant monitoring for gestational hypertension or mild pre-eclampsia between 34 and 37 weeks' gestation (HYPITAT-II): a multicentre, open-label randomised controlled trial 
Background
Gestational hypertension (GH) and pre-eclampsia (PE) can result in severe complications such as eclampsia, placental abruption, syndrome of Hemolysis, Elevated Liver enzymes and Low Platelets (HELLP) and ultimately even neonatal or maternal death. We recently showed that in women with GH or mild PE at term induction of labour reduces both high risk situations for mothers as well as the caesarean section rate. In view of this knowledge, one can raise the question whether women with severe hypertension, pre-eclampsia or deterioration chronic hypertension between 34 and 37 weeks of gestation should be delivered or monitored expectantly. Induction of labour might prevent maternal complications. However, induction of labour in late pre-term pregnancy might increase neonatal morbidity and mortality compared with delivery at term.
Methods/Design
Pregnant women with severe gestational hypertension, mild pre-eclampsia or deteriorating chronic hypertension at a gestational age between 34+0 and 36+6 weeks will be asked to participate in a multi-centre randomised controlled trial. Women will be randomised to either induction of labour or expectant monitoring. In the expectant monitoring arm, women will be induced only when the maternal or fetal condition detoriates or at 37+0 weeks of gestation. The primary outcome measure is a composite endpoint of maternal mortality, severe maternal complications (eclampsia, HELLP syndrome, pulmonary oedema and thromboembolic disease) and progression to severe pre-eclampsia. Secondary outcomes measures are respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), neonatal morbidity and mortality, caesarean section and vaginal instrumental delivery rates, maternal quality of life and costs. Analysis will be intention to treat. The power calculation is based on an expectant reduction of the maternal composite endpoint from 5% to 1% for an expected increase in neonatal RDS from 1% at 37 weeks to 10% at 34 weeks. This implies that 680 women have to be randomised.
Discussion
This trial will provide insight as to whether in women with hypertensive disorders late pre-term, induction of labour is an effective treatment to prevent severe maternal complications without compromising the neonatal morbidity.
Trial Registration
NTR1792 Clinical trial registration: http://www.trialregister.nl
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-11-50
PMCID: PMC3161905  PMID: 21736705
20.  Maternal health-related quality of life after induction of labor or expectant monitoring in pregnancy complicated by intrauterine growth retardation beyond 36 weeks 
Quality of Life Research  2011;20(9):1427-1436.
Objective
Pregnancies complicated by intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) beyond 36 weeks of gestation are at increased risk of neonatal morbidity and mortality. Optimal treatment in IUGR at term is highly debated. Results from the multicenter DIGITAT (Disproportionate Intrauterine Growth Intervention Trial At Term) trial show that induction of labor and expectant monitoring result in equal neonatal and maternal outcomes for comparable cesarean section rates. We report the maternal health-related quality of life (HR-QoL) that was measured alongside the trial at several points in time.
Methods
Both randomized and non-randomized women were asked to participate in the HR-QoL study. Women were asked to fill out written validated questionnaires, covering background characteristics, condition-specific issues and the Short Form (SF-36), European Quality of Life (EuroQoL 6D3L), Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale (HADS), and Symptom Check List (SCL-90) at baseline, 6 weeks postpartum and 6 months postpartum. We compared the difference scores of all summary measures between the two management strategies by ANOVA. A repeated measures multivariate mixed model was defined to assess the effect of the management strategies on the physical (PCS) and mental (MCS) components of the SF-36. Analysis was by intention to treat.
Results
We analyzed data of 361 randomized and 198 non-randomized patients. There were no clinically relevant differences between the treatments at 6 weeks or 6 months postpartum on any summary measures; e.g., on the SF-36 (PCS: P = .09; MCS: P = .48). The PCS and the MCS were below norm values at inclusion. The PCS improved over time but stayed below norm values at 6 months, while the MCS did not improve.
Conclusion
In pregnancies complicated by IUGR beyond 36 weeks, induction of labor does not affect the long-term maternal quality of life.
doi:10.1007/s11136-011-9891-x
PMCID: PMC3195683  PMID: 21468753
Intrauterine growth retardation; Small for gestational age; Quality of life; Induction of labor; Expectant management
21.  Well being of obstetric patients on minimal blood transfusions (WOMB trial) 
Background
Primary postpartum haemorrhage is an obstetrical emergency often causing acute anaemia that may require immediate red blood cell (RBC) transfusion. This anaemia results in symptoms such as fatigue, which may have major impact on the health-related quality of life. RBC transfusion is generally thought to alleviate these undesirable effects although it may cause transfusion reactions. Moreover, the postpartum haemoglobin level seems to influence fatigue only for a short period of time. At present, there are no strict transfusion criteria for this specific indication, resulting in a wide variation in postpartum policy of RBC transfusion in the Netherlands.
Methods/Design
The WOMB trial is a multicentre randomised non-inferiority trial. Women with acute anaemia due to postpartum haemorrhage, 12-24 hours after delivery and not initially treated with RBC transfusion, are eligible for randomisation. Patients with severe physical complaints are excluded. Patients are randomised for either RBC transfusion or expectant management. Health related quality of life (HRQoL) will be assessed at inclusion, at three days and one, three and six weeks postpartum with three validated measures (Multi-dimensional Fatigue Inventory, ShortForm-36, EuroQol-5D). Primary outcome of the study is physical fatigue three days postpartum. Secondary outcome measures are general and mental fatigue scores and generic health related quality of life scores, the number of RBC transfusions, length of hospital stay, complications and health-care costs.
The primary analysis will be by intention-to-treat. The various longitudinal scores will be evaluated using Repeated Measurements ANOVA. A costs benefit analysis will also be performed. The power calculation is based on the exclusion of a difference in means of 1.3 points or greater in favour of RBC transfusion arm regarding physical fatigue subscale. With missing data not exceeding 20%, 250 patients per arm have to be randomised (one-sided alpha = 0.025, power = 80%).
Discussion
This study will provide evidence for a guideline regarding RBC transfusion in the postpartum patient suffering from acute anaemia. Equivalence in fatigue score, remaining HRQoL scores and physical complications between both groups is assumed, in which case an expectant management would be preferred to minimise transfusion reactions and costs.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00335023, Nederlands Trial Register NTR335
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-83
PMCID: PMC3022737  PMID: 21162725
22.  IMproving PArticipation of patients in Clinical Trials - rationale and design of IMPACT 
Background
One of the most commonly reported problems of randomised trials is that recruitment is usually slower than expected. Trials will cost more and take longer, thus delaying the use of the results in clinical practice, and incomplete samples imply decreased statistical power and usefulness of its results. We aim to identify barriers and facilitators for successful patient recruitment at the level of the patient, the doctor and the hospital organization as well as the organization and design of trials over a broad range of studies.
Methods/design
We will perform two cohort studies and a case-control study in the Netherlands. The first cohort study will report on a series of multicenter trials performed in a nationwide network of clinical trials in obstetrics and gynaecology. A questionnaire will be sent to all clinicians recruiting for these trials to identify determinants - aggregated at centre level - for the recruitment rate. In a case control-study nested in this cohort we will interview patients who refused or consented participation to identify factors associated with patients' consent or refusal. In a second cohort study, we will study trials that were prospectively registered in the Netherlands Trial Register. Using a questionnaire survey we will assess whether issues on hospital organization, trial organization, planning and trial design were associated with successful recruitment, i.e. 80% of the predefined number of patients recruited within the planned time.
Discussion
This study will provide insight in barriers and facilitators for successful patient recruitment in trials. The results will be used to provide recommendations and a checklist for individual trialists to identify potential pitfalls for recruitment and judge the feasibility prior to the start of the study. Identified barriers and motivators coupled to evidence-based interventions can improve recruitment of patients in clinical trials.
doi:10.1186/1471-2288-10-85
PMCID: PMC2955658  PMID: 20875119
23.  10-Year cardiovascular event risks for women who experienced hypertensive disorders in late pregnancy: the HyRAS study 
Background
Cardiovascular disease is the cause of death in 32% of women in the Netherlands. Prediction of an individual's risk for cardiovascular disease is difficult, in particular in younger women due to low sensitive and specific tests for these women. 10% to 15% of all pregnancies are complicated by hypertensive disorders, the vast majority of which develop only after 36 weeks of gestation. Preeclampsia and cardiovascular disease in later life show both features of "the metabolic syndrome" and atherosclerosis. Hypertensive disorders in pregnancy and cardiovascular disease may develop by common pathophysiologic pathways initiated by similar vascular risk factors. Vascular damage occurring during preeclampsia or gestational hypertension may contribute to the development of future cardiovascular disease, or is already present before pregnancy. At present clinicians do not systematically aim at the possible cardiovascular consequences in later life after a hypertensive pregnancy disorder at term. However, screening for risk factors after preeclampsia or gestational hypertension at term may give insight into an individual's cardiovascular risk profile.
Methods/Design
Women with a history of preeclampsia or gestational hypertension will be invited to participate in a cohort study 2 1/2 years after delivery. Participants will be screened for established modifiable cardiovascular risk indicators. The primary outcome is the 10-year cardiovascular event risk. Secondary outcomes include differences in cardiovascular parameters, SNP's in glucose metabolism, and neonatal outcome.
Discussion
This study will provide evidence on the potential health gains of a modifiable cardiovascular risk factor screening program for women whose pregnancy was complicated by hypertension or preeclampsia. The calculation of individual 10-year cardiovascular event risks will allow identification of those women who will benefit from primary prevention by tailored interventions, at a relatively young age.
Trial registration
The HYPITAT trial is registered in the clinical trial register as ISRCTN08132825.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-28
PMCID: PMC2889848  PMID: 20515501
24.  Antenatal allopurinol for reduction of birth asphyxia induced brain damage (ALLO-Trial); a randomized double blind placebo controlled multicenter study 
Background
Hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy is associated with development of cerebral palsy and cognitive disability later in life and is therefore one of the fundamental problems in perinatal medicine. The xanthine-oxidase inhibitor allopurinol reduces the formation of free radicals, thereby limiting the amount of hypoxia-reperfusion damage. In case of suspected intra-uterine hypoxia, both animal and human studies suggest that maternal administration of allopurinol immediately prior to delivery reduces hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy.
Methods/Design
The proposed trial is a randomized double blind placebo controlled multicenter study in pregnant women at term in whom the foetus is suspected of intra-uterine hypoxia.
Allopurinol 500 mg IV or placebo will be administered antenatally to the pregnant woman when foetal hypoxia is suspected. Foetal distress is being diagnosed by the clinician as an abnormal or non-reassuring foetal heart rate trace, preferably accompanied by either significant ST-wave abnormalities (as detected by the STAN-monitor) or an abnormal foetal blood scalp sampling (pH < 7.20).
Primary outcome measures are the amount of S100B (a marker for brain tissue damage) and the severity of oxidative stress (measured by isoprostane, neuroprostane, non protein bound iron and hypoxanthine), both measured in umbilical cord blood. Secondary outcome measures are neonatal mortality, serious composite neonatal morbidity and long-term neurological outcome. Furthermore pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics will be investigated.
We expect an inclusion of 220 patients (110 per group) to be feasible in an inclusion period of two years. Given a suspected mean value of S100B of 1.05 ug/L (SD 0.37 ug/L) in the placebo group this trial has a power of 90% (alpha 0.05) to detect a mean value of S100B of 0.89 ug/L (SD 0.37 ug/L) in the 'allopurinol-treated' group (z-test2-sided). Analysis will be by intention to treat and it allows for one interim analysis.
Discussion
In this trial we aim to answer the question whether antenatal allopurinol administration reduces hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy in neonates exposed to foetal hypoxia.
Trial registration number
Clinical Trials, protocol registration system: NCT00189007
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-8
PMCID: PMC2834613  PMID: 20167117
25.  Pessaries in multiple pregnancy as a prevention of preterm birth: the ProTwin Trial 
Background
Multiple pregnancies are at high risk for preterm birth, and therefore an important cause of infant mortality and morbidity. A pessary is a simple and potentially effective measure for the prevention of preterm birth. Small studies have indicated its effectiveness, but large studies with sufficient power on the subject are lacking. Despite this lack of evidence, the treatment is at present applied by some gynaecologists in The Netherlands.
Methods/Design
We aim to investigate the hypothesis that prophylactic use of a cervical pessary will be effective in the prevention of preterm delivery and the neonatal mortality and morbidity resulting from preterm delivery in multiple pregnancy. We will evaluate the costs and effects of this intervention. At study entry, cervical length will be measured. Eligible women will be randomly allocated to receive either a cervical pessary or no intervention. The cervical pessary will be placed in situ at 16 to 20 weeks, and will stay in situ up to 36 weeks gestation or until delivery, whatever comes first.
The primary outcome is composite bad neonatal condition (perinatal death or severe morbidity). Secondary outcome measures are time to delivery, preterm birth rate before 32 and 37 weeks, days of admission in neonatal intensive care unit, maternal morbidity, maternal admission days for preterm labour and costs. We need to include 660 women to indicate a reduction in bad neonatal outcome from 7.2% without to 3.9% with a cervical pessary, using a two-sided test with an alpha of 0.05 and a power of 0.80.
Discussion
This trial will provide evidence on whether a cervical pessary will decrease the incidence of early preterm birth and its concomitant bad neonatal outcome in multiple pregnancies.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials: NTR 1858
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-9-44
PMCID: PMC2754434  PMID: 19761606

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