Perinatal Outcomes after Short versus Prolonged Indomethacin for Tocolysis in Women with Preterm Labor

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Indomethacin tocolysis is generally limited to 48 hours. Indomethacin has been administered for longer durations to prolong gestation in extreme prematurity. Our aim is to compare perinatal outcomes after a prolonged course, > 48 hours versus ≤ 48 hours in preterm labor.


A retrospective chart review of women admitted with preterm labor < 32 weeks gestation who received indomethacin for tocolysis. The primary maternal outcome was latency from admission until delivery. The primary neonatal outcome was a composite of severe neonatal morbidities.


A total of 73 women were included: 32 (43.8%) received indomethacin for > 48 hours (prolonged) and 41 (56.2%) for ≤ 48 hours (standard). Prolonged group started on indomethacin at an earlier gestational age compared with standard group (23.9 [23.1–27.3] vs. 25.7 [23.8–28.5] weeks, p = 0.03). Latency from admission until delivery was longer in the prolonged group versus the standard group (1.8 [1.1–3] vs. 0.4 [0.1–0.8] weeks, p < 0.001). Prolonged use was not associated with increased risk of the composite neonatal outcome; however, there was a trend for more necrotizing enterocolitis.


A prolonged course of indomethacin may be an option for women with preterm labor at risk of extreme prematurity; it may also be associated with higher risks of some adverse neonatal outcomes.

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