Predibirth: birth simulators cut back on emergency C-sections

Using MRI scans, the simulation software creates 3D reconstructions of the mother's pelvis and the various trajectories the baby takes as it squeezes through the birth canal (video!).

Planned caesareans are about 7 times less likely to result in complications, compared with emergency C-sections.

And now, doctors can predict if women might have difficulty giving birth, so they can offer them planned operations instead. New Scientist reports.

Some doctors measure the size of the pelvis to estimate how difficult birth might be (a technique called pelvimetry), but this doesn't take into account the shape of the baby's head or the curvature of the mother’s pelvis.

"If you have a small pelvis, it doesn't necessarily mean that you can't deliver, and even women with a large pelvis may need mechanical help," says study researcher Olivier Ami of Université Paris-Sud. "The question is: can that fetus pass through that pelvis?"

  1. First, they take an MRI scan of a pregnant woman’s pelvis while the baby is in her body.
  2. Then they create a 3D reconstruction of the pelvis and model 72 different trajectories the baby might take as it rotates and squeezes its way through the birth canal.
  3. The model scores the woman’s chances of having an uncomplicated birth based on the simulations.

Watch a groovy video of a simulated baby navigating around a pelvis.

They tested their technique using their software called Predibirth and MRI scans taken of 24 women before they gave birth.

  • All 13 who had vaginal deliveries were given a high probability of an uncomplicated birth.
  • 3 of the 5 women who needed an emergency C-section were flagged as high risk.
  • 2 of the 3 women who elected to have caesarians were scored as high risk.
  • And then 3 women had their deliveries assisted with a vacuum device.

"The idea is to transform the majority of emergency C-sections into planned ones," Ami says.

The work was presented at the Radiological Society of North America meeting in Chicago at the end of last month.

From New Scientist.

Image: Predibirth

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