Pelvimetry assesses the size of a woman's pelvis aiming to predict whether she will be able to give birth vaginally or not. This can be done by clinical examination, or by conventional X-rays, computerised tomography (CT) scanning, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
To assess the effects of pelvimetry (performed antenatally or intrapartum) on the method of birth, on perinatal mortality and morbidity, and on maternal morbidity. This review concentrates exclusively on women whose fetuses have a cephalic presentation.
We searched Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (31 January 2017) and reference lists of retrieved studies.
Randomised controlled trials (including quasi-randomised) assessing the use of pelvimetry versus no pelvimetry or assessing different types of pelvimetry in women with a cephalic presentation at or near term were included. Cluster trials were eligible for inclusion, but none were identified.
Two review authors independently assessed trials for inclusion and risk of bias, extracted data and checked them for accuracy. We assessed the quality of the evidence using the GRADE approach.
Five trials with a total of 1159 women were included. All used X-ray pelvimetry to assess the pelvis. X-ray pelvimetry versus no pelvimetry or clinical pelvimetry is the only comparison included in this review due to the lack of trials identified that examined other types of radiological pelvimetry or that compared clinical pelvimetry versus no pelvimetry.The included trials were generally at high risk of bias. There is an overall high risk of performance bias due to lack of blinding of women and staff. Two studies were also at high risk of selection bias. We used GRADEpro software to grade evidence for our selected outcomes; for caesarean section we rated the evidence low quality and all the other outcomes (perinatal mortality, wound sepsis, blood transfusion, scar dehiscence and admission to special care baby unit) as very low quality. Downgrading was due to risk of bias relating to lack of allocation concealment and blinding, and imprecision of effect estimates.Women undergoing X-ray pelvimetry were more likely to have a caesarean section (risk ratio (RR) 1.34, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.19 to 1.52; 1159 women; 5 studies; low-quality evidence). There were no clear differences between groups for perinatal outcomes: perinatal mortality (RR 0.53, 95% CI 0.19 to 1.45; 1159 infants; 5 studies; very low-quality evidence), perinatal asphyxia (RR 0.66, 95% CI 0.39 to 1.10; 305 infants; 1 study), and admission to special care baby unit (RR 0.20, 95% CI 0.01 to 4.13; 288 infants; 1 study; very low-quality evidence). Other outcomes assessed were wound sepsis (RR 0.83, 95% CI 0.26 to 2.67; 288 women; 1 study; very low-quality evidence), blood transfusion (RR 1.00, 95% CI 0.39 to 2.59; 288 women; 1 study; very low-quality evidence), and scar dehiscence (RR 0.59, 95% CI 0.14 to 2.46; 390 women; 2 studies; very low-quality evidence). Again, no clear differences were found for these outcomes between the women who received X-ray pelvimetry and those who did not. Apgar score less than seven at five minutes was not reported in any study.
X-ray pelvimetry versus no pelvimetry or clinical pelvimetry is the only comparison included in this review due to the lack of trials identified that used other types or pelvimetry (other radiological examination or clinical pelvimetry versus no pelvimetry). There is not enough evidence to support the use of X-ray pelvimetry for deciding on mode of delivery in women whose fetuses have a cephalic presentation. Women who undergo an X-ray pelvimetry may be more likely to have a caesarean section.Further research should be directed towards defining whether there are specific clinical situations in which pelvimetry can be shown to be of value. Newer methods of pelvimetry (CT, MRI) should be subjected to randomised trials to assess their value. Further trials of X-ray pelvimetry in cephalic presentations would be of value if large enough to assess the effect on perinatal mortality.