External cephalic version in East, Central, and Southern Africa

Abraham M. Mukaindo
Sikolia Z. Wanyonyi
William R. Stones


Objective: To evaluate the views of maternity care providers in East, Central, and Southern Africa on external cephalic version (ECV), and its determinants, with the aim of drawing lessons for practice.

Methods: In February 2009, a cross-sectional survey using self-administered semi-structured questionnaires was conducted among delegates attending a regional conference of obstetricians and gynecologists. Descriptive statistical analysis was undertaken, and comments were analyzed for themes.

Results: Of the 70 questionnaires issued to eligible delegates, 64 were fully completed (response rate 91%). Seventy-nine percent of respondents did not offer ECV. Approximately a third (31%) of the practitioners offered elective vaginal breech delivery. Clinicians offering ECV did so at varying gestational ages. Clinicians not offering ECV gave various reasons including concerns about the procedure's safety and lack of training and experience with it, policy restrictions, medico-legal concerns, clinician or client reluctance, and poor results with the procedure.

Conclusion: Overall, ECV is not widely practiced in East, Central, and Southern Africa, mainly owing to concerns related to safety and policy. Efforts aimed at reviving ECV in these regions should address these concerns. A conceptual framework of such efforts is proposed herein.