Classification and external resources
DiseasesDB 4025
eMedicine med/3280
MeSH D004420

Dystocia (antonym eutocia; Ancient Greek:  tokos "childbirth") is an abnormal or difficult childbirth or labour. Approximately one fifth of human labours have dystocia.[1] Dystocia may arise due to incoordinate uterine activity, abnormal fetal lie or presentation, absolute or relative cephalopelvic disproportion, or (rarely) a massive fetal tumor such as a sacrococcygeal teratoma. Oxytocin is commonly used to treat incoordinate uterine activity, but pregnancies complicated by dystocia often end with assisted deliveries, including forceps, ventouse or, commonly, caesarean section. Recognized complications of dystocia include fetal death, respiratory depression, hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE), and brachial nerve damage. A prolonged interval between pregnancies, primigravid birth, and multiple birth have also been associated with increased risk for labor dystocia.[1]

Shoulder dystocia is a dystocia in which the anterior shoulder of the infant cannot pass below the pubic symphysis or requires significant manipulation to pass below it. It can also be described as delivery requiring additional manoeuvres after gentle downward traction on the head has failed to deliver the shoulders.

A prolonged second stage of labour is another type of dystocia whereby the fetus has not been delivered within three hours in a nulliparous woman, or two hours in multiparous woman, after her cervix has become fully dilated.

Synonyms for dystocia include difficult labour, abnormal labour, difficult childbirth, abnormal childbirth, and dysfunctional labour.

The term can also be used in the context of various animals. Dystocia pertaining to birds and reptiles is also called egg binding.


  1. ^ a b Zhu, BP; Grigorescu V, Le T, Lin M, Copeland G; Barone M; Turabelidze G (2006). "Labor dystocia and its association with interpregnancy interval". American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 85: 810–814. 

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  • Dystocia — Dys*to ci*a, n. [NL., fr. Gr. ?; dys ill, hard + to kos delivery.] (Med.) Difficult delivery pr parturition. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Dystocia — Difficult/abnormal labor or delivery. From the Greek "dys" meaning "difficult, painful, disordered, abnormal" + "tokos" meaning "birth." * * * Difficult childbirth. [G. dystokia, fr. dys , difficult, +… …   Medical dictionary

  • dystocia — n. difficult birth, caused by abnormalities in the fetus or the mother. The most common causes of fetal dystocia are excessive size (see macrosomia) or malpresentation of the baby. Maternal dystocia may result if the pelvis is abnormally small,… …   The new mediacal dictionary

  • Dystocia, cervical — Dystocia caused by mechanical obstruction at the cervix …   Medical dictionary

  • Dystocia, fetal — Dystocia caused by the fetus due to its size (too big), shape or position in the uterus …   Medical dictionary

  • dystocia — noun Etymology: New Latin, from Greek dystokia, from dys + tokos childbirth; akin to Greek tiktein to give birth to more at thane Date: circa 1706 slow or difficult labor or delivery …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • dystocia — noun A slow or difficult labour or delivery …   Wiktionary

  • dystocia — n. abnormally difficult labor or childbirth (Medicine) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • dystocia — [dɪs təʊʃə] noun Medicine difficulty in giving birth. Origin C18: from Gk dustokia, from dus difficult + tokos childbirth …   English new terms dictionary

  • dystocia — dys·to·cia …   English syllables

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