About Vacuum Extractor Birth Injuries

Like forceps, a delivery by vacuum extractor can be safe and effective in the hands of a trained and competent obstetrician.  However, inexperienced, unpracticed or hurried obstetricians can make mistakes with these devices, which can cause permanent injury to the child.

What Is A Vacuum Extractor?

Vacuum extractors are devices that include a cup placed on the baby’s head, and a suction device.  Some extractors use a soft cup, and some use a hard metal cup.  Some use a hand pump to create the vacuum, while others use an electric compressor.

When Should Vacuum Extractors Be Used?

The indications for using vacuum extractors are identical to forceps use.  When labor is prolonged, or the baby is in distress, vacuum use may be warranted.  The vacuum extractor should not be used when the baby is premature, cephalopelvic disproportion is a concern, or when the baby must be repositioned.

Vacuum Extractor Injuries

Injuries with the extractor can be caused by improper use or prolonged use (it is generally unsafe to attempt this method for more than 20 minutes).  Sometimes too much suction is applied, the cup is positioned incorrectly, or the vacuum is used when the baby is too far in the birth canal.  Types of vacuum extractor birth injuries include:

    • Scalp lacerations and bruising
    • Intracranial hemorrhage
    • Subgaleal hemorrhage (bleeding between the skull and scalp)

Vacuum Extractor Verses Forceps

The choice between vacuum extractor and forceps delivery is often one of obstetrician preference.  Studies are not consistent with regard to the relative risks of each, though forceps use has a higher likelihood of facial nerve palsy and maternal injuries.  Vacuum extractor, on the other hand, is more likely to cause cephalohematoma and shoulder dystocia.

Contact us

If your doctor delivered your child using a vacuum extractor, your child may have sustained injury because of the vacuum.  If your child has developmental delays, cerebral palsy, brachial plexus injuries, or had bleeding in the brain, contact our medical malpractice lawyers at (855) 712-7818 or online for a complimentary consultation.  We can help you find out if your physician used the proper vacuum extractor techniques in the delivery of your child.

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