Optimising maternal-fetal outcomes in preterm labour: A decision analysis

George A. Macones, Thomas J. Bader, David A. Asch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Objective To compare, using decision analytic techniques, maternal and fetal risk and benefits of three strategies for the management of preterm labour after 32 weeks. These strategies are empiric tocolysis, no tocolysis, or amniocentesis for fetal maturity testing. Data Sources Published medical literature provided the probabilities, including those for tocolysis efficacy, maternal and neonatal outcomes, and steroid efficacy. Data Synthesis Separate decision trees were created for hypothetical cohorts of patients presenting with preterm labour at 32,34, and 36 weeks of gestation to compare strategies. The primary outcome was the total number of expected adverse maternal and neonatal events for each strategy at each gestational age. Results At 32 weeks tocolysis yielded the lowest total number of adverse maternal and neonatal events. At 34 weeks, both tocolysis and no tocolysis yielded similar overall outcomes. At 36 weeks most clinical outcomes were good regardless of strategy. Conclusions This analysis supports the empiric use of tocolytics at 32 weeks. At 34 weeks, either tocolysis or no tocolysis appear to be reasonable alternatives. At 36 weeks no tocolysis is probably preferred. This analysis also suggests that amniocentesis should not be employed in the management of preterm labour at these gestational ages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-550
Number of pages10
JournalBJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1998


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