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How effective is amniotomy as a means of induction of labour?BACKGROUND: Amniotomy or artificial rupture of membranes is routinely used for induction of labour. AIMS: To assess the efficacy of amniotomy alone for induction. METHODS: A retrospective descriptive study of 3,586 cases of amniotomy for induction of labour between July 1996 and December 1999. RESULTS: In total, 26,670 women delivered in the National Maternity Hospital during the study period. Of these 4,928 women required induction of labour and 72.8% of these (n = 3,586) underwent amniotomy only for induction of labour. Spontaneous labour occurred in 90.1% of the women who underwent amniotomy within 24 h. Oxytocin as an induction agent was employed in 9.8% of cases. Overall, 80.5% of the women had a spontaneous delivery, 7.3% had a ventouse delivery, 4.3% had a forceps delivery, and 7.9% underwent a caesarean section. In total, 90.5% of multips and 63.4% of primips had a spontaneous vaginal delivery. CONCLUSIONS: Amniotomy is a simple, safe and effective method of induction of labour.