A minor surgical procedure which widens the birth canal by cutting the introitus (vaginal opening). Episiotomy is performed to prevent the jagged, less controlled tearing of the introital tissue during the stretching associated with delivery. The routine use of an episiotomy may cause more problems than it solves and has been linked to increased rectal tearing. It is a painful procedure that may predispose to infections other complications. An episiotomy may be very helpful when forceps or vacuum extraction are used and with breech presentations. Talk to your doctor about whether you might need one. The use of episiotomies has decreased in the past few years.