Our purpose was to determine the rate of success of the McRoberts' maneuver as the initial treatment for shoulder dystocia and to compare the rate of maternal and neonatal morbidity with those cases of shoulder dystocia requiring additional obstetric maneuvers. A secondary goal was to assess those factors associated with successful McRoberts' maneuvers.
A retrospective review of shoulder dystocia cases occurring between 1991 and 1994 was performed. The identified cases were divided into two groups on the basis of the maneuvers used to relieve the shoulder dystocia. The first group comprised cases in which the McRoberts' maneuver was used as the sole treatment and the second group consisted of cases in which additional maneuvers were subsequently used. Exclusion criteria included lack of documentation concerning the maneuvers used or cases in which the McRoberts' maneuver was not the initial technique used. The two groups were compared with respect to various antepartum, intrapartum, and neonatal characteristics.
During the study period we identified 250 cases of shoulder dystocia among 44,072 vaginal deliveries, for an incidence of 0.57%. Of these, 236 cases (94%) fulfilled entry criteria. The McRoberts' position alone successfully alleviated the shoulder dystocia in 98 cases (42%). In the group of cases where the McRoberts' maneuver was the sole maneuver used, there were significantly lower mean birth weights (p = 0.008), shorter durations of the active phase of labor (p = 0.009), and shorter second stages (p < 0.0001). In the group of cases that required additional maneuvers to relieve the shoulder dystocia, there was a trend toward an increased incidence of postpartum hemorrhage and brachial plexus injury (p = 0.07).
These data suggest that the McRoberts' maneuver is associated with a significant degree of success in relieving shoulder dystocia and may be associated with decreased morbidity compared with other maneuvers. On the basis of these findings, we recommend the McRoberts' maneuver as the initial technique for disimpaction of the anterior shoulder.