Routine episiotomy where the vagina is cut to supposedly allow for an easier birth should be abandoned immediately, concludes an Argentinian study group report. It also states that rates of episiotomy above 30 per cent "cannot be justified".
Episiotomy is one of the most common surgical procedures in the West, and is done in an estimated 62.5 per cent of all vaginal births in the US.
In many countries, trainees in obstetrics are taught to routinely carry out episiotomy "regardless of poor scientific evidence of its benefits", the report states.
The study group carried out a randomized trial of 2606 women in five Argentinian cities who either received routine episiotomy, because it was hospital policy, or selective, when it seemed necessary.
Those who received routine episiotomy suffered greater pain and healing complications than the group given episiotomy selectively.