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External cephalic version, or version, is a procedure used to turn a breech fetus into a head-down (vertex) position before labor begins. When successful, version makes it possible for a woman to try a vaginal birth instead of having a cesarean section.
External cephalic version is typically tried at term, when the fetus is less likely to turn back to breech position. A fetus is closely monitored before, during, and after the procedure for possible distress. After first using medicine to relax the mother's uterine muscles, a doctor presses on specific areas of her abdomen to turn the fetus.
Last Revised: July 24, 2013
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & William Gilbert, MD - Maternal and Fetal Medicine
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