New research as found that the use of a Foley catheter appears to be as effective as prostaglandin gel, but with fewer side effects. These were the findings of a randomised trial. The Foley catheter is used to inflate a balloon behind the cervix that simulates the pressure of a baby's head to make the cervix dilate, likely by stimulating endogenous prostaglandins.
Caesarean section rates were similar in both groups, however more caesareans were performed for failure to progress in the foley catheter group, than the prostaglandin group. +Operative delivery due to fetal distress was less common with the Foley catheter than with prostaglandins.
The Foley catheter group was also more likely to be augmented with Syntocinon, though this was common in both groups and is a general feature of induction.
Why is this research important? Women who have had a previous caesarean but require induction are often forced into a corner because many care providers are reluctant to induce labour on women who have had a previous caesarean for fear of the scar separating. This often leads to a reluctant decision to have an elective repeat caesarean. However, if women have the option of a foley's catheter induction, this provides a safer alternative to prostaglandin induction with fewer complications.