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1.  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
2.  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
3.  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
4.  Assessment of perinatal outcome after sustained tocolysis in early labour (APOSTEL-II trial) 
Background
Preterm labour is the main cause of perinatal morbidity and mortality in the Western world. At present, there is evidence that tocolysis for 48 hours is useful in women with threatened preterm labour at least before 32 weeks. This allows transfer of the patient to a perinatal centre, and maximizes the effect of corticosteroids for improved neonatal survival. It is questionable whether treatment with tocolytics should be maintained after 48 hours.
Methods/Design
The APOSTEL II trial is a multicentre placebo-controlled study. Pregnant women admitted for threatened preterm labour who have been treated with 48 hours corticosteroids and tocolysis will be eligible to participate in the trial between 26+0 and 32+2 weeks gestational age. They will be randomly allocated to nifedipine (intervention) or placebo (control) for twelve days or until delivery, whatever comes first.
Primary outcome is a composite of perinatal death, and severe neonatal morbidity up to evaluation at 6 months after birth. Secondary outcomes are gestational age at delivery, number of days in neonatal intensive care and total days of the first 6 months out of hospital. In addition a cost-effectiveness analysis will be performed. Analysis will be by intention to treat. The power calculation is based on an expected 11% difference in adverse neonatal outcome. This implies that 406 women have to be randomised (two sided test, β 0.2 at alpha 0.05).
Discussion
This trial will provide evidence as to whether maintenance tocolysis reduces severe perinatal morbidity and mortality in women with threatened preterm labour before 32 weeks.
Trial Registration
Clinical trial registration: , NTR 1336, date of registration: June 3rd 2008.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-9-42
PMCID: PMC2754432  PMID: 19737426
5.  Cost-effectiveness of fibronectin testing in a triage in women with threatened preterm labor: alleviation of pregnancy outcome by suspending tocolysis in early labor (APOSTEL-I trial) 
Background
At present, women with threatened preterm labor before 32 weeks of gestation are, after transfer to a perinatal center, treated with tocolytics and corticosteroids. Many of these women are treated unnecessarily. Fibronectin is an accurate predictor for the occurrence of preterm birth among women with threatened preterm labor. We will assess whether triage of these women with fibronectin testing, cervical length or their combination is cost-effective.
Methods/Design
We will investigate a prospective cohort of women referred to a perinatal centre for spontaneous threatened preterm labor between 24 and 34 weeks with intact membranes. All women will be tested for fibronectin and cervical length. Women with a cervical length <10 mm and women with a cervical length between 10-30 mm in combination with a positive fibronectin test will be treated with tocolytics according to local protocol. Women with a cervical length between 10-30 mm in combination with a negative fibronectin test will be randomised between treatment with nifedipine (intervention) and placebo (control) for 48 hours. Women with a cervical length > 30 mm will be managed according to local protocol. Corticosteroids may be given to all women at the discretion of the attending physician. Primary outcome measure will be delivery within 7 days. Secondary outcome measures will be neonatal morbidity and mortality, complications of tocolytics, costs and health related quality of life. The analysis will be according to the intention to treat principle. We anticipate the probability on preterm birth within 7 days in the group of women with a negative fibronectine test to be 5%. Two groups of 110 women will be needed to assure that in case of non-inferiority the difference in the proportion of preterm deliveries < 7 days will be within a prespecified boundary of 7.5% (one sided test, β 0.2, α 0.05). Data obtained from women with a positive and negative fibronectin tests in both the cohort study and the trial will be integrated in a cost-effectiveness analysis that will assess economic consequences of the use of fibronectin.
Discussion
This study will provide evidence for the use of fibronectin testing as safe and cost-effective method in a triage for threatened preterm labor.
Trial registration
Nederlands Trial Register (NTR) number 1857, .
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-9-38
PMCID: PMC2752451  PMID: 19723320
6.  A randomised clinical trial on cardiotocography plus fetal blood sampling versus cardiotocography plus ST-analysis of the fetal electrocardiogram (STAN®) for intrapartum monitoring 
Background
Cardiotocography (CTG) is worldwide the method for fetal surveillance during labour. However, CTG alone shows many false positive test results and without fetal blood sampling (FBS), it results in an increase in operative deliveries without improvement of fetal outcome. FBS requires additional expertise, is invasive and has often to be repeated during labour. Two clinical trials have shown that a combination of CTG and ST-analysis of the fetal electrocardiogram (ECG) reduces the rates of metabolic acidosis and instrumental delivery. However, in both trials FBS was still performed in the ST-analysis arm, and it is therefore still unknown if the observed results were indeed due to the ST-analysis or to the use of FBS in combination with ST-analysis.
Methods/Design
We aim to evaluate the effectiveness of non-invasive monitoring (CTG + ST-analysis) as compared to normal care (CTG + FBS), in a multicentre randomised clinical trial setting. Secondary aims are: 1) to judge whether ST-analysis of fetal electrocardiogram can significantly decrease frequency of performance of FBS or even replace it; 2) perform a cost analysis to establish the economic impact of the two treatment options.
Women in labour with a gestational age ≥ 36 weeks and an indication for CTG-monitoring can be included in the trial.
Eligible women will be randomised for fetal surveillance with CTG and, if necessary, FBS or CTG combined with ST-analysis of the fetal ECG.
The primary outcome of the study is the incidence of serious metabolic acidosis (defined as pH < 7.05 and Bdecf > 12 mmol/L in the umbilical cord artery). Secondary outcome measures are: instrumental delivery, neonatal outcome (Apgar score, admission to a neonatal ward), incidence of performance of FBS in both arms and cost-effectiveness of both monitoring strategies across hospitals.
The analysis will follow the intention to treat principle. The incidence of metabolic acidosis will be compared across both groups. Assuming a reduction of metabolic acidosis from 3.5% to 2.1 %, using a two-sided test with an alpha of 0.05 and a power of 0.80, in favour of CTG plus ST-analysis, about 5100 women have to be randomised. Furthermore, the cost-effectiveness of CTG and ST-analysis as compared to CTG and FBS will be studied.
Discussion
This study will provide data about the use of intrapartum ST-analysis with a strict protocol for performance of FBS to limit its incidence. We aim to clarify to what extent intrapartum ST-analysis can be used without the performance of FBS and in which cases FBS is still needed.
Trial Registration Number
ISRCTN95732366
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-13
PMCID: PMC1976105  PMID: 17655764
7.  Induction of labour versus expectant management in women with preterm prelabour rupture of membranes between 34 and 37 weeks (the PPROMEXIL-trial) 
Background
Preterm prelabour rupture of the membranes (PPROM) is an important clinical problem and a dilemma for the gynaecologist. On the one hand, awaiting spontaneous labour increases the probability of infectious disease for both mother and child, whereas on the other hand induction of labour leads to preterm birth with an increase in neonatal morbidity (e.g., respiratory distress syndrome (RDS)) and a possible rise in the number of instrumental deliveries.
Methods/Design
We aim to determine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of immediate delivery after PPROM in near term gestation compared to expectant management. Pregnant women with preterm prelabour rupture of the membranes at a gestational age from 34+0 weeks until 37+0 weeks will be included in a multicentre prospective randomised controlled trial. We will compare early delivery with expectant monitoring.
The primary outcome of this study is neonatal sepsis. Secondary outcome measures are maternal morbidity (chorioamnionitis, puerperal sepsis) and neonatal disease, instrumental delivery rate, maternal quality of life, maternal preferences and costs. We anticipate that a reduction of neonatal infection from 7.5% to 2.5% after induction will outweigh an increase in RDS and additional costs due to admission of the child due to prematurity. Under these assumptions, we aim to randomly allocate 520 women to two groups of 260 women each. Analysis will be by intention to treat. Additionally a cost-effectiveness analysis will be performed to evaluate if the cost related to early delivery will outweigh those of expectant management. Long term outcomes will be evaluated using modelling.
Discussion
This trial will provide evidence as to whether induction of labour after preterm prelabour rupture of membranes is an effective and cost-effective strategy to reduce the risk of neonatal sepsis.
Controlled clinical trial register
ISRCTN29313500
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-11
PMCID: PMC1934382  PMID: 17617892

Results 1-7 (7)