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Any mutilation of the fetus in the uterus to aid in its removal when natural delivery is impossible.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a gynecological operation whose purpose is the destruction of the fetus and its subsequent removal through the natural birth canal. One of the oldest of operations, it was widely performed until the late 19th century.

Advances in the prevention of severe forms of gynecological pathology and the relative safety of cesarean section in contemporary practice have drastically reduced the number of cases in which embryotomy is indicated. The operation is usually performed only on a dead fetus—in cases where the entire fetus cannot be extracted through the natural birth canal without seriously endangering the mother’s life. The choice of method (for example, craniotomy, which decreases the size of the fetus’ skull, or decapitation, in which the fetus’ head is separated from the trunk by means of Braun’s hook) is determined by such factors as the position of the fetus, the mother’s state, and the condition of the birth canal.


Bodiazhina, V. I., and K. N. Zhmakin. Akusherstvo. Moscow, 1970.
Ershikova, G. M. Kraniotomiia v sovremennom akusherstve. Moscow, 1973.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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