Tachysystole Definition, Contractions, CTG, Labor, Treatment, ICD-10

What is Tachysystole?

Tachysystole is a medical term that refers to abnormally frequent uterine contractions that occur during pregnancy. This occurs most frequently during labor, whether induced or augmented. Although some contractions occur naturally and are essential for the process of delivery, tachysystole, characterized by its rapid pace and potential consequences for both the mother and the infant, can be problematic.


Tachysystole is the medical term used to describe an abnormally high frequency of contractions in the uterus during pregnancy or labor. In Greek, it literally means "rapid contraction". Contractions are necessary for labor, but they can be dangerous if they occur too frequently or close together.

Tachysystole Definition, Contractions, CTG, Labor, Treatment, ICD-10

Tachysystole Contractions

During pregnancy or labor, tachysystole contractions are precisely defined as an abnormally high frequency of uterine contractions. They occur when the uterus contracts more frequently than is normal, usually more than five times in a 10-minute interval averaged over a 30-minute period. While contractions are required for childbirth, their frequency and severity are critical factors in the birthing process. If contractions occur excessively or with great intensity, it might result in difficulties for both the mother and the infant.

Tachysystole contractions Types

There are two forms of tachysystolic contractions

Uterine tachysystole refers to the occurrence of numerous contractions during childbirth that especially impact the uterus. It is the most prevalent form of tachysystole.

Cardiac tachysystole refers to an abnormally fast heartbeat that is unrelated to pregnancy. 

Tachysystole on CTG

Cardiotocography (CTG) is a monitoring technique used to measure the contractions in the uterus and the fetal heart rate during pregnancy and childbirth. Healthcare providers can evaluate the baby's condition and spot any possible issues by looking at the CTG tracing.

Here's how tachysystole appears on a CTG:

Frequency: Tachysystole is defined as the occurrence of more than 5 contractions over a 10-minute interval, with an average calculated over a 30-minute timeframe. This would be indicated on the CTG trace by the presence of over five peaks in the uterine contraction trace during a 10-minute interval.

Intensity: The magnitude of contractions is also significant. Both regular and intense contractions are capable of inducing tachysystole. Higher peaks on the CTG trace indicate high-intensity contractions.

Tachysystole in Labor

Tachysystole during labor is characterized by abnormally frequent uterine contractions during childbirth. The term "contraction frequency" refers to the occurrence of more than five contractions within a 10-minute timeframe, with the average calculated over a 30-minute interval. Although certain contractions during labor are typical and essential for childbirth, tachysystole may cause complications such as:

  • Reduce fetal oxygenation
  • Increase the risk of fetal distress
  • Leads to maternal exhaustion
  • Increase the risk of complications

Tachysystole Treatment

The specific treatment for Tachysystole will be determined by several aspects, including the severity of the ailment, the stage of labor, and the presence of any fetal distress. Typical forms of treatment consist of:

Observation: In certain circumstances, the healthcare provider may just observe the mother and baby to see whether the contractions stop on their own.

Hydration: Improving uterine blood flow through the administration of extra IV fluids may reduce contractions.

Positioning: Changing positions, particularly laying on the left side, can occasionally enhance uterine blood flow and reduce contraction frequency.

Discontinuing labor-inducing medications: In the event of Tachysystole during labor induction, the administration of drugs such as oxytocin may be ceased or decreased in order to decelerate contractions.

Tocolytic medications: These drugs induce uterine relaxation and decelerate contractions. Terbutaline, ritodrine, and magnesium sulfate are other examples. Tocolytic medicines are not routinely recommended for Tachysystole due to inadequate data and potential maternal adverse effects.

Emergency delivery: An emergency C-section may be required in critical circumstances to safeguard the well-being of both the mother and the infant.

Tachysystole ICD-10

Tachysystole can be classified into two ICD-10 codes, depending on the setting:

O62.4 Prolonged, hypertonic, and uncoordinated uterine contractions

O62.9 Unspecified abnormality in labor contractions.

Tachysystole Definition, Contractions, CTG, Labor, Treatment, ICD-10 Tachysystole Definition, Contractions, CTG, Labor, Treatment, ICD-10 Reviewed by Simon Albert on January 18, 2024 Rating: 5
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