Letters to the Editor: Treating uterine atony



The BEPCOP strategy for uterine atony

I appreciated Dr. Barbieri’s editorial about oxytocics for postpartum uterine atony and have personally noted the poor effectiveness of rectal misoprostol. I was reminded of his previous editorial that recommended administering intravenous (IV) oxytocin to postcesarean delivery patients for about 6 to 8 hours to reduce the risk of postoperative hemorrhage.

At my current hospital we usually use postpartum oxytocin, 30 units in 500 mL of 5% dextrose in water (D5W) for vaginal deliveries, and that infusion typically is administered for only 1 to 2 hours. Cesarean delivery patients receive oxytocin, 20 units in 1,000 mL of Ringer’s lactate, over the first 1 to 2 hours postoperatively. As an OB hospitalist I have been summoned occasionally to the bedside of patients who have uterine atony and hemorrhage, which usually occurs several hours after their oxytocin infusion has finished.

With this in mind I developed a proactive protocol that I call BEPCOP, an acronym for “Barnes’ Excellent Post Cesarean Oxytocin Protocol.” This involves simply running a 500-mL bag of oxytocin (30 units in 500 mL of D5W) at a constant rate of 50 mL/hour, which provides 50 mU/min oxytocin over the first 10 hours postdelivery.

I recommend BEPCOP for every cesarean delivery patient, as well as for any vaginally delivered patients who are at increased risk for atony, such as those with prolonged labor, large babies, polyhydramnios, multifetal gestation, chorioamnio‑nitis, and history of hemorrhage after a previous delivery, and for patients who are Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is important to reduce the rate of the mainline IV bag while the oxytocin is infusing to reduce the risk of fluid overload.

Since starting this routine I have seen a noticeable decrease in postpartum and postcesarean uterine atony.

E. Darryl Barnes, MD
Mechanicsville, Virginia

Nondissolving misoprostol is ineffective

There is something about misoprostol that is not mentioned in Dr. Barbieri’s editorial. There are 2 types of misoprostol: the proprietary formulation (Cytotec, Pfizer) and the generic form (probably the one used in most hospitals, and possibly also the one used in the randomized studies alluded to).

The generic form, manufactured overseas, is literally insoluble. In my experience, these undissolved tabletsare expelled intact from the rectum5 hours after insertion and they therefore do nothing. The proprietary brand of misoprostol dissolves instantly in the rectum, and the results are dramatic to say the least.

Helio Zapata, MD
Skokie, Illinois

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