Implementation of care practices to prevent and repair perineal trauma in childbirth

Rafael Cleison Silva dos Santos Maria Luiza Gonzalez Riesco About the authors

RESUMO

Objetivos

Implementar práticas assistenciais para prevenção e reparo do trauma perineal no parto normal.

Métodos

Estudo quase-experimental, realizado no Hospital da Mulher Mãe-Luzia, Macapá, AP. Realizaram-se 74 entrevistas com enfermeiros e médicos e 70 com puérperas, e analisaram-se dados de prontuários (n=555). O desenvolvimento da pesquisa se deu em três fases: pré-auditoria e auditoria de base (fase 1); intervenção educativa e implementação de boas práticas assistenciais (fase 2); auditoria pós-implementação (fase 3); a análise foi pela comparação das fases 1 e 3.

Resultados

Após a intervenção educativa, menos profissionais incentivavam puxos dirigidos, realizavam episiotomia e suturavam lacerações de primeiro grau; mais mulheres informaram que o parto foi em posição litotômica; mais registros nos prontuários indicaram o uso de Vicryl® na sutura da mucosa e pele.

Conclusões

A intervenção educativa melhorou os cuidados e os desfechos perineais, porém há lacunas na implementação das evidências e inadequações no manejo do cuidado perineal.

Prática clínica baseada em evidências; Parto; Enfermagem obstétrica

RESUMEN

Objetivo

Implementar prácticas asistenciales para la prevención y reparación del trauma perineal en el parto.

Método

Estudio casi experimental, conducido en el Hospital da Mulher Mãe-Luzia, Macapá, AP. Se realizaron 74 entrevistas con médicos y enfermeras y 70 con puérperas y se analizaron los datos de registros médicos (n=555). La investigación se desarrolló en tres fases: preauditoría y auditoría de base (fase 1); intervención educativa e implementación de buenas prácticas asistenciales (fase 2); auditoría posimplementación (fase 3); el análisis fue comparando las fases 1 y 3.

Resultados

Después de la intervención educativa, menos profesionales incentivaban pujo dirigido, realizaban episiotomía y suturaban desgarros de primer grado; más mujeres tuvieron el parto en posición litotomía; más registros indicaban uso de Vicryl® para suturar la mucosa y piel.

Conclusión

La intervención educativa ha mejorado el cuidado y los resultados perineales, pero hay lagunas en la implementación de evidencias y deficiencias en el cuidado perineal.

Práctica clínica basada en la evidencia; Parto; Enfermería obstétrica

ABSTRACT

Objective

To implement care practices for perineal trauma prevention and repairing in normal birth.

Method

Quasi-experimental study conducted at Hospital da Mulher Mãe-Luzia, in Macapá, AP, Brazil. Seventy-four (74) nurses and obstetricians and 70 post-partum women were interviewed and the records of 555 patients were analyzed. The study was conducted in three stages: pre-audit and baseline audit (phase 1); educational intervention and implementation of best practices (phase 2); post-implementation audit (phase 3). Data was analyzed by comparison of the results of phases 1 and 3.

Results

Following the educational intervention, a lower number of health professionals encouraged directed pushing, performed episiotomies and repaired first-degree lacerations; more women reported lithotomy position; more patient records indicated the use of Vicryl™ to suture the perineal mucosa and skin.

Conclusion

The educational intervention improved birth care and perineal outcomes. Nevertheless, gaps were identified in the implementation of evidence, as well as inappropriate perineal care management

Evidence-based practice; Parturition; Obstetric nursing

INTRODUCTION

Currently, there has been increased awareness of the importance of applying knowledge gained through research to clinical practice and health policies. However, such knowledge has been underused11. Pereira ER. Translation of knowledge and translational research in healthcare. J Nurs UFPE on line. 2013;7(3):1-3..

Evidence-based healthcare practice can be defined as clinical decision-making that considers the best available evidence, the context of care provision, client preference, and judgment of the healthcare provider. This evidence is then summarized and transferred to health services and professionals22. Pearson A, Jordan Z, Munn Z. Translational science and evidence-based healthcare: a clarification and reconceptualization of how knowledge is generated and used in healthcare. Nurs Res Pract. 2012;2012:792519..

According to this model, the stage of knowledge translation has been described as a process that reduces the gap between health research and clinical practice, through its implementation33. Stevens BJ, Yamada J, Estabrooks CA, Stinson J, Campbell F, Scott SD, et al. Pain in hospitalized children: Effect of a multidimensional Knowledge translation strategy on pain process and clinical outcomes. Pain. 2014;155(1):60-8..

There are many barriers to the dissemination and application of research findings to healthcare, with emphasis to lack of awareness and motivation of professionals, disagreement with research evidence or outcomes, and knowledge apparently useless in clinical practice44. Trentini M, Silva DMGV. Research groups in nursing: from knowledge transfer to the practice. Texto Contexto Enferm. 2012;21(4):723-4..

In Brazil, the main barrier in this regard is the lack of familiarity with knowledge transfer and the difficulties in the implementation of this new field, e.g. related to the definition of relevant research problems, low budget and little concern for translational research by the funding agencies55. Oelke ND, Lima MADS, Costa AMA. Knowledge translation: translating research into policy and practice. Rev Gaúcha Enferm. 2015;36(3):113-7.

Transfer of knowledge is one of the evidence-based healthcare components proposed by the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI), headquartered in Adelaide, Australia. It concerns the transfer of knowledge to professionals and healthcare systems around the world based on decision-making methods22. Pearson A, Jordan Z, Munn Z. Translational science and evidence-based healthcare: a clarification and reconceptualization of how knowledge is generated and used in healthcare. Nurs Res Pract. 2012;2012:792519..

According to the JBI model, transfer and implementation of evidence in clinical practice are different components. Thus, after the generation, synthesis and transfer of evidence, evidence-based practices are implemented through the assessment of their impact on the healthcare process22. Pearson A, Jordan Z, Munn Z. Translational science and evidence-based healthcare: a clarification and reconceptualization of how knowledge is generated and used in healthcare. Nurs Res Pract. 2012;2012:792519..

Over the past decades, research in maternal health has sought solutions to various problems, such as perineal trauma, defined as any damage to the genitalia during childbirth that occurs by spontaneous laceration or intentionally by surgical incision (episiotomy)66. Bick DE, Ismail KM, Macdonald S, Thomas P, Tohill S, Kettle C. How good are we at implementing evidence to support the management of birth related perineal trauma? a UK wide survey of midwifery practice. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2012;12:57..

It is estimated that approximately 70% of women having vaginal birth sustain some sort of perineal trauma, and three quarters of them will require suturing77. Ismail KM, Kettle C, Mcdonald SE, Tohill S, Thomas PW, Bick D. Perineal Assessment and Repair Longitudinal Study (PEARLS): a matched-pair cluster randomized trial. BMC Med. 2013;11:209..

The rates of episiotomy vary widely, ranging from 9.7% (Sweden) to 100% (Taiwan), with lower rates in English-speaking countries such as Canada (23.8%) and the United States (32.7%), and high rates in countries such as Ecuador (96.2%), China (82%) and South Africa (63.3%). Rates of episiotomy are usually higher than 65% in primiparous women77. Ismail KM, Kettle C, Mcdonald SE, Tohill S, Thomas PW, Bick D. Perineal Assessment and Repair Longitudinal Study (PEARLS): a matched-pair cluster randomized trial. BMC Med. 2013;11:209..

In Brazil, the national hospital-based survey “Birth in Brazil”88. Leal MC, Pereira APE, Domingues RMSM, Theme Filha MM, Dias MAB, Nakamura Pereira M, et al. Obstetric interventions during labour and birth in Brazilian low risk women. Cad Saúde Publica. 2014;30(Suppl 1):S1-16., with 23,940 mothers found that episiotomy was performed in 53.5% of women.

Accordingly, preventing perineal trauma during childbirth has impact on the main resulting morbidities, especially bleeding, pain, infection, dehiscence and dyspareunia99. Carrolli G, Mignini L. Episiotomy for vaginal birth. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009;(1):CD000081.. Other possible consequences that can be avoided are ecchymosis, hematoma, rectal fistula, urinary and anal incontinence. Aspects such as psychological distress, breastfeeding problems, negative birth experience, and future sexual dissatisfaction of the woman and her partner can be minimized by promoting perineal integrity. Also, nurses, midwives and physicians should be able to prevent, assess, and repair perineal trauma by ensuring that the tissues and structures involved are properly repaired, with the use of suitable techniques and materials to promote healing and reduce morbidity, as recommended by the evidence1010. Kettle C, Dowswell T, Ismail KM. Continuous and interrupted suturing techniques for repair of episiotomy or second-degree tears. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013;(11):CD000947..

However, despite the knowledge gained, little attention was paid to these important aspects related to management of perineal care at childbirth, since many professionals routinely use practices considered harmful to perineal integrity, characterizing practices that are not evidence-based.

Thus, the general purpose of this study was to implement care practices targeted to the prevention and repair of perineal trauma during normal birth. The specific objectives were assessing the healthcare practices used to prevent and repair perineal trauma in normal birth; assess the impact of these practices on perineal outcomes.

METHOD

Before and after quasi-experimental intervention study, according to the methodology of implementation1111. Côrtes CT, Santos RCS, Caroci AS, Oliveira SG, Oliveira SMJV, Riesco MLG. Implementation methodology of practices based on scientific evidence for assistance in natural delivery: a pilot study. Rev Esc Enferm USP. 2015;49(5):716-24. of scientific evidence in clinical practice, from the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI). This methodology consists of a clinical audit process and comprises three phases: 1) pre-audit and baseline audit; 2) implementation of best practices; 3) post-implementation audit.

The study was conducted from July 2015 to March 2016, at Hospital da Mulher Mãe-Luzia (HMML), in Macapá, Amapá, which provided care under Brazil’s Unified Health System (SUS), attached to the State Department of Health of Amapá.

The population consisted of nurses, physicians and residents of both categories of the HMML and the postpartum women who attended the service.

Eligible professionals were all nurses (n = 42) and physicians (n = 29) who met the following inclusion criteria: holding a degree of obstetrical specialist, or doing specialization or residency in obstetrics; providing direct assistance to normal birth. For participating in phase 3, the professionals were also supposed to have participated in phase 2. The final sample of participants in phases 1, 2 and 3 was composed of 42 individuals (25 nurses and 17 physicians), 32 and 32 (20 nurses and 12 physicians), respectively.

The sample of postpartum women consisted of two groups: hospitalized postpartum women and records of women who gave birth at the HMML. Thirty-five women who gave birth before and 35 who gave birth after the intervention (phases 1 and 3, respectively) were included in the sample of hospitalized women, totaling 70 women, according to the following criteria: not belong to an indigenous ethnic group; considered to be at habitual obstetric risk; admitted to hospital during active labor phase with cervical dilation up to 8 centimeters; had vaginal birth; accessible through the telephone for interviews 10-12 days and 30 days after childbirth. Convenience sampling was used and the sample size was calculated based on the rate of episiotomy of the Northern region (48.6%), the lowest regional rate in Brazil88. Leal MC, Pereira APE, Domingues RMSM, Theme Filha MM, Dias MAB, Nakamura Pereira M, et al. Obstetric interventions during labour and birth in Brazilian low risk women. Cad Saúde Publica. 2014;30(Suppl 1):S1-16.. For the intentional sample of women’s records, all records of pregnant women who were discharged one month before the intervention (n = 424) and one month after the intervention (n = 440) were considered. Regarding the inclusion criteria participant does not belong to any indigenous ethnic group, at habitual obstetric risk, admitted to hospital during active labor phase with cervical dilation up to 8 centimeters, vaginal birth, the final sample of patient records was 291 in phase 1 and 264 in phase 3.

During pre-audit and baseline audit (phase 1), the following activities were carried out: stablishment of the audit team; definition of audit criteria; preliminary assessment of the perineal outcomes and identification of the practices used in perineal trauma prevention and repair.

The composition of the audit team was discussed in meetings with stakeholders. It included the general manager, clinical director and technical director of HMML, the nursing coordinator and the head of obstetrics, the Permanent Education Center of the hospital, the researcher and a resident nurse.

For determining the levels of adherence to the recommendations, obstetric practices and perinatal outcomes related to normal birth, the following audit criteria were used: maternal position; directed pushing; Kristeller maneuver; prevention of perineal trauma; rates of episiotomy and spontaneous laceration; assessment and classification of laceration; first-degree laceration repair; perineal trauma suturing technique; type of material (thread); anesthesia in perineal repair; spontaneous perineal pain and perineal pain during activities (walking, sitting, urinating, evacuating, breastfeeding, dyspareunia); level of satisfaction of the postpartum woman with perineal repair.

Face to face interviews were conducted with the health professionals and postpartum women with a structured form, and the duration was approximately 10 minutes. The interviews with the health professionals were conducted in the hospital, on different days of the week, during their work hours, at a prescheduled date. Face to face interviews were conducted with hospitalized postpartum women and telephone interviews were conducted after hospital discharge, between 10-12 days and 30 days postpartum.

Phase 1 was concluded with collection of data from records of non-interviewed postpartum women. The records (n = 424) of postpartum women discharged in July 2015 were requested to the medical archival service one week before the start of the baseline audit, and the sample was selected (n = 291), considering the same inclusion criteria established for the respondents.

Three weeks after the end of the pre-audit and baseline audit (phase 1), an educational intervention entitled “Seminar on evidence-based practices in care to normal birth” (phase 2) was conducted with the health professionals who participated in this study. The purpose of the referred intervention was to present the results of the preliminary assessment of perineal care practices in normal birth implemented in the study setting and discuss the scientific evidence on best practices in perineal trauma management, considering the professional experience of each participant.

The presentation of evidence was made with a datashow projector and an animated video about perineal suture, with emphasis on the continuous suture technique. The Seminar was held in the morning and was repeated in the afternoon to allow the participation of all professionals involved, and had a duration of 4 hours in each period, and at the time of the event, folders with updated material recommended by the World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health were made available, including the main systematic reviews of the Cochrane Collaboration and randomized clinical trials indexed by the Virtual Health Library, duly translated into Portuguese.

The post-implementation audit (phase 3) started 60 days after the end of phase 2, and was aimed to assess the impact of the proposed intervention on the implementation of best practices in perineal trauma care. Post-implementation audit data were collected in the same manner as in phase 1, with independent samples from women and records, as previously described.

Inferential data analysis was made by comparing the results of phase 1 with phase 3. The Generalized Estimating Equations (GEE) model was used to compose the sample of health professionals and for the variables collected at more than one postpartum moment, in the sample of postpartum women. Fisher’s exact test was used for the variables collected only once in the postpartum period and for the sample of patient records. All analyzes were performed with SPSS 22 software, in two-tailed tests, assuming a probability of type 1 error of 5% (p-value = 0.05).

The project was approved by the Research Ethics Committee of the School Nursing of Universidade de São Paulo (CAAE: 31700414.50000.5392, no 698.421, of June, 10, 2014). HMML authorization was obtained and the participation of health professionals and women was voluntary, after reading and signing the Free and Informed Consent form and Term of Assent, when indicated, according to Resolution no. 466/12 of Brazil’s National Health Council.

RESULTS

Table 1 presents the answers of the professionals related to frequency of use of practices in birth care. Comparison between phases 1 and 3 of the study showed increase in the percentage of professionals who rarely or never encourage directed pushing (p = 0.009), use episiotomy restrictively (p = 0.021), and do not repair first-degree lacerations (p = 0.011).

Table 1
– Distribution of the practices used in childbirth by professionals in the pre-audit and baseline audit (phase 1) and post-implementation audit (phase 3) and p-value – Macapa, AP, 2015-2016 (continue)

Table 2 shows the responses of postpartum women related to obstetric interventions and perineal outcomes that occurred during childbirth. Lithotomy position at birth was adopted by most women in phase 1 and was also more frequent in phase 3, with statistically significant difference (p = 0.028).

Table 2
– Distribution of the practices used and the perineal outcomes identified in interviews with the postpartum women at pre-audit and baseline audit (phase 1) and post-implementation audit (phase 3) and p-value – Macapa, AP, 2015-2016

Table 3 shows complaint of perineal pain, spontaneous or caused by some activities (walking, sitting, urinating, evacuating or breastfeeding) and the level of satisfaction of postpartum women with perineal repair. It can be seen that the frequency of spontaneous pain in postpartum women is small or absent in all postpartum periods. Regarding pain resulting from some activities, the frequency decreased during the postpartum period, with statistically significant difference for the different periods (p = 0.019), but with no difference between phases 1 and 3. It is worth mentioning that all the postpartum women in both phases of the study, denied dyspareunia, in the period of 10-12 days and 30 days after childbirth.

Table 3
– Distribution of perineal pain and level of satisfaction with perineal repair according to the postpartum period identified in interviews with the postpartum women in the pre-audit and baseline audit (phase 1) and post-implementation audit (phase 3) and value-p – Macapá, AP, 2015-2016

The results related to patient records are presented in Table 4. The high number of records without recording of all variables was observed in both phases. The only obstetric practices in which there was statistically significant difference were repair of the perineal laceration and the type of material used to suture the mucosa and the skin. Proportionately, fewer women had perineal laceration sutured (p = 0.039) and more professionals used Vicryl® in the mucosa (p = 0.006) and skin (p = 0.033).

Table 4
– Distribution of practices and perineal outcomes identified in the records in the pre-audit and baseline audit (phase 1) and post-implementation audit (phase 3) and p-value – Macapá, PA, 2015-2016

DISCUSSION

Regarding the obstetric practices used by health professionals to prevent perineal trauma at childbirth, after the intervention, the present study found that a smaller number of professionals reported the use of directed pushing and episiotomy, with statistically significant difference. Before the intervention, most professionals believed that such practices could be beneficial to the patients, but were not able to support their beliefs. Directed pushing and routine use of episiotomy during the second stage of labor are clearly harmful or ineffective practices that increase the incidence of trauma and perineal pain after birth, and hence should be eliminated1212. Francisco AA, Kinjo MH, Bosco CS, Silva RL, Mendes EPB, Oliveira SMJV. Association between perineal trauma and pain in primiparous women. Rev Esc Enferm USP. 2014;48(esp):39-44.-1313. Ministério da Saúde (BR), Secretaria de Políticas de Saúde, Área Técnica de Saúde da Mulher. Diretriz nacional de assistência ao parto normal: relatório de recomendação. Brasília; 2016..

Cross-sectional study1414. Caroci AS, Riesco MLG, Leite JS, Araújo NM, Scarabotto LB, Oliveira SMJV. Localização das lacerações perineais no parto normal em mulheres primíparas. Rev eEferm UERJ, 2014;22(3):402-8., conducted in São Paulo with 317 primiparous women concluded that directed pushing is mostly related to posterior perineal lacerations. Randomized clinical trial77. Ismail KM, Kettle C, Mcdonald SE, Tohill S, Thomas PW, Bick D. Perineal Assessment and Repair Longitudinal Study (PEARLS): a matched-pair cluster randomized trial. BMC Med. 2013;11:209., carried out in the UK, with 3,681 women used an educational intervention with midwives and physicians for assessing and repairing second-degree lacerations and episiotomies based on evidences and concluded that, after training, most professionals reported using evidence-based practices, including selective episiotomy.

Other practices of perineal trauma prevention reported by the professionals were manual protection of the perineum and perineal massage with vegetable oil, performed during the second stage of labor. There is still little evidence available in the literature to support these practices. In 2011, a systematic review1515. Aasheim V, Nilsen ABV, Lukasse M, Reinar LM. Perineal techniques during the second stage of labour for reducing perineal trauma. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011(12):CD006672. assessed perineal techniques during the second stage of labor to reduce perineal trauma in eight clinical trials with 11,651 women, and the use of warm compresses on the perineum was the only associated technique. This practice has been recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists1616. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (US). Practice Bulletin Nº. 165: Prevention and management of obstetric lacerations at vaginal delivery. Obstet Gynecol. 2016:128(1):e1-15. to reduce the incidence of third and fourth-degree lacerations.

The practices implemented and the perineal outcomes identified in the interviews with the postpartum women showed greater use of lithotomy position during childbirth, with statistically significant difference. This finding contrasts with some respondents’ statements mentioning decrease in the use of this position. This result indicates that the educational intervention failed to promote the use of evidence-based care. The fact that lithotomy position provides better visualization of the birth canal and makes it easier for obstetricians to push the fetus during expulsion are the main reasons for maintaining this practice and resisting the use of evidence-based practices.

Systematic review1717. Gupta JK, Hofmeyr GJ, Shehmar M. Position in the second stage of labour for women without epidural anaesthesia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;(5):CD002006. on different positions during the second stage of labor without epidural anesthesia included 22 clinical trials and 7,280 women. The authors concluded that the use of vertical position during this stage was associated with reduction in episiotomies. However, it should be stressed that a positive birthing experience is achieved when the position is freely chosen by the woman.

Corroborating the findings of the national hospital-based survey “Birth in Brazil”88. Leal MC, Pereira APE, Domingues RMSM, Theme Filha MM, Dias MAB, Nakamura Pereira M, et al. Obstetric interventions during labour and birth in Brazilian low risk women. Cad Saúde Publica. 2014;30(Suppl 1):S1-16., our reality does not differ from the rest of the country, with obstetricians performing interventions not based on evidences, and thus exposing women to the risk of perineal trauma.

On the other hand, in the present study, after the intervention, there were less reports of women with spontaneous laceration and more reports of intact perineum, though these differences were not statistically significant. These more favorable perineal outcomes can be explained by nurses’ adherence to evidence-based practices, who were also more willing to use the “hands off” technique presented and discussed in the educational intervention as an alternative to prevent perineal trauma. Systematic review1818. Bulchandani S, Watts E, Sucharitha A, Yates D, Ismail KM. Manual perineal support at the time of childbirth: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BJOG. 2015;122(9):1157-65. with five randomized controlled trials (n = 6,816 women) and seven non-randomized trials (n = 108,156 women) aimed to compare the effect of “hands on” against “hands off” techniques concluded that evidence of the effectiveness of perineal protection during delivery on reduction of the risk of perineal trauma is scarce, and further testing is urgently needed.

Regarding the results of the implemented practices and the perineal outcomes identified in the records, most of them did not include the variables analyzed in both audit phases. One explanation for this limitation can be associated to the difficulty of health professionals in recording all care procedures related to delivery, including obstetric practices and perineal outcomes, due to the large number of patients assisted.

Regarding the practices of repair of perineal trauma during delivery identified in interviews with professionals, it was found, after the intervention, that fewer professionals reported first-degree perineal laceration repair. It is worth mentioning that the Seminar that discussed the decision of repairing perineal lacerations based on a systematic review1919. Elharmeel SMA, Chaudhary Y, Tan S, Scheermeyer E, Hanafy A, van Driel ML. Surgical repair of spontaneous perineal tears that occur during childbirth versus no intervention. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011;(8):CD008534., found that there is limited evidence in this regard and that the decision of suturing these perineal lacerations can be based on the professional’s clinical assessment and the patient’s preference. Furthermore, the National Guideline Assistance to Normal Birth1313. Ministério da Saúde (BR), Secretaria de Políticas de Saúde, Área Técnica de Saúde da Mulher. Diretriz nacional de assistência ao parto normal: relatório de recomendação. Brasília; 2016. recommends suturing first-degree lacerations in order to improve healing.

Our study found that, after the intervention, more participants decided to implement evidence-based care, with significant adherence of these professionals to classification of perineal trauma: all of them reported performing this classification. A study66. Bick DE, Ismail KM, Macdonald S, Thomas P, Tohill S, Kettle C. How good are we at implementing evidence to support the management of birth related perineal trauma? a UK wide survey of midwifery practice. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2012;12:57. published in 2012 focused on the inadequate classification of perineal trauma among professionals because the anatomical variables of the vulvoperineal region may interfere with this classification, especially in the case of third and fourth-degree lacerations, which are generally underestimated. The classification of perineal trauma has been proposed and accepted internationally, as follows: first-degree trauma (involves skin and mucosa), second-degree trauma (includes perineal muscles), third-degree trauma (involves the anal sphincter and is subclassified into 3a: damage to less than 50% of the external anal sphincter; 3b: damage to more than 50% of the external anal sphincter; 3c: damage to the entire internal and external anal sphincter and fourth-degree trauma (affects the anal epithelium)99. Carrolli G, Mignini L. Episiotomy for vaginal birth. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009;(1):CD000081..

There was also an improvement in the practice of health professionals (nurses and obstetricians) regarding rectal examination, which was more frequently. This finding indicates that the educational intervention was effective in transferring knowledge, because some participants reported that they were not sure of the need to perform this test. Rectal examination is recommended in cases of third and fourth-degree trauma to check whether the suture was not inadvertently inserted through the rectal mucosa66. Bick DE, Ismail KM, Macdonald S, Thomas P, Tohill S, Kettle C. How good are we at implementing evidence to support the management of birth related perineal trauma? a UK wide survey of midwifery practice. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2012;12:57..

In the current study, there was an improvement in the use of the non-anchored continuous suturing technique for perineal repair in all tissue layers after the intervention. A systematic review1010. Kettle C, Dowswell T, Ismail KM. Continuous and interrupted suturing techniques for repair of episiotomy or second-degree tears. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013;(11):CD000947. with meta-analysis of 16 randomized controlled and quasi-randomized trials with 8,184 women with episiotomy or second-degree laceration, the results confirmed the evidence that the continuous suturing technique, compared to the interrupted technique, is associated with less pain, less material, analgesia and removal of suture, which can improve healing. More recent evidence suggests that continuous suturing in the repair of perineal tissues is associated with increased satisfaction of women1313. Ministério da Saúde (BR), Secretaria de Políticas de Saúde, Área Técnica de Saúde da Mulher. Diretriz nacional de assistência ao parto normal: relatório de recomendação. Brasília; 2016., 1616. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (US). Practice Bulletin Nº. 165: Prevention and management of obstetric lacerations at vaginal delivery. Obstet Gynecol. 2016:128(1):e1-15..

The interviews with health professionals also revealed the use of Vicryl® suturing material on all tissue layers, after the intervention, except for skin suture, where the level of use of chromic catgut increased. This result was partially satisfactory because, despite the lack of synthetic suturing material available at the study setting, during the post-implementation audit, more professionals reported its use in the mucosa and in the muscular layer. Although catgut suture is widely used in Brazil, there are recent evidences1313. Ministério da Saúde (BR), Secretaria de Políticas de Saúde, Área Técnica de Saúde da Mulher. Diretriz nacional de assistência ao parto normal: relatório de recomendação. Brasília; 2016.,1616. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (US). Practice Bulletin Nº. 165: Prevention and management of obstetric lacerations at vaginal delivery. Obstet Gynecol. 2016:128(1):e1-15. that rapidly absorbed synthetic suture material, particularly, polyglycolic acid and polyglactin 910 (Vicryl Rapide®), is associated with less perineal pain in the postpartum period, less dehiscence and reduced need for another perineal suturing up to three months after birth, when compared to suturing with catgut.

Regarding the questions posed to the postpartum women who had perineal trauma repair, there were few or none complaints of spontaneous perineal pain, at three moments in the postpartum period: 1 to 2 days, 10 to 12 days and 30 days. The frequency of reports of pain caused by walking, sitting, urinating, evacuating or breastfeeding also decreased during the postpartum period, with statistically significant difference for the different periods. Perineal pain is a commonly reported morbidity symptom, highly associated with perineal trauma, especially episiotomy, which tends to decline over time. Cross-sectional study1212. Francisco AA, Kinjo MH, Bosco CS, Silva RL, Mendes EPB, Oliveira SMJV. Association between perineal trauma and pain in primiparous women. Rev Esc Enferm USP. 2014;48(esp):39-44. conducted with 473 women, to identify the association between perineal trauma and pain, concluded that the recognition of this association is important to improve the use of evidences related to the suturing technique and the type of material (thread) used.

Regarding the practices and perineal outcomes detected in patients’ records, after the intervention, there were less records of sutured women and more records of use of Vicryl® in the repair of mucosa and skin, with statistically significant difference. However, since most records were incomplete, the results suggest that these data are underestimated and that more women may have been sutured. Moreover, as more professionals reported using Vicryl® to repair the mucosa and muscle, there were also more records of use of this material in skin and mucosa suturing. Therefore, we can assume that, after the intervention, there was a significant increase in the use of this practice, which is based on available evidences1313. Ministério da Saúde (BR), Secretaria de Políticas de Saúde, Área Técnica de Saúde da Mulher. Diretriz nacional de assistência ao parto normal: relatório de recomendação. Brasília; 2016.,1616. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (US). Practice Bulletin Nº. 165: Prevention and management of obstetric lacerations at vaginal delivery. Obstet Gynecol. 2016:128(1):e1-15..

In the present study, which was part of a doctoral thesis2020. Santos RCS. Implementação de evidências científicas na prevenção e reparo do trauma perineal no parto [tese]. São Paulo (SP): Escola de Enfermagem, Universidade de São Paulo; 2016. developed in the Postgraduate Nursing Program in the School of Nursing of the University of Sao Paulo, the lack of information in patients records was an important limitation. Other limitations included the use of convenience sampling of the hospitalized postpartum women, without randomization; difficulties in data collection and unavailability of health professionals, mainly physicians; the lack of synthetic suturing material in the study setting during the research and the lack of practical training during the educational intervention, to improve perineal trauma assessment and classification.

Still, the findings confirm the importance of permanent and standardized education for the maintenance of evidence-based care, as recommended in the literature, and provide contributions to knowledge and clinical practice of nursing professionals, demonstrating that many practices are empirical and that there are evidences to prevent morbidities. The study also highlights the importance and the need to improve the quality of patients’ records. There is also the possibility of implementation of these results in clinical practice. Despite the barriers and difficulties, the audits allow the timely identification of potential gaps in care, in order to local managers may establish the appropriate strategies to deal with them.

CONCLUSION

The findings of the present study allow to conclude that the methodology of implementation of evidence-based practices in the prevention and repair of perineal trauma in normal birth improved the birth care and the perineal outcomes, in the study setting, as follows: less nurses and physicians that adopt directed pushing and routine episiotomies, fewer reports of women with postpartum perineal pain and more records of the use of Vicryl® to suture the mucosa and skin.

On the other hand, the study identified gaps in the implementation of best practices and some inadequacies in the management of perineal care, e.g. professionals who did not use repair first-degree lacerations, more women reporting the lithotomy position and less information on perineal lacerations suture in the patients’ records. Educational interventions on evidence-based practice may result in improvements in care and maternal health outcomes.

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Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    2016

History

  • Received
    28 Sept 2016
  • Accepted
    14 Feb 2017
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