A vacuum extractor is a medical device used to help a baby move through the birth canal during a difficult birth. While most babies pass through the birth canal on their own, helped by the mother's labor contractions and pushing, some deliveries are more complicated and result in the baby needing assistance to make it out of the mother's body. In these cases, a physician may choose whether to use forceps, a vacuum extractor (image shown below), a cesarean section, or another method to help the baby out.
Types and Causes of Vacuum Extractor Injuries
A vacuum extractor is a medical device used to help a baby move through the birth canal during a difficult birth.
A vacuum extractor uses a soft cup that attaches to the baby's head with suction. Usually, the suction force is relatively gentle, and the baby is not injured by the process. However, physicians who use a vacuum extractor must always remember that a newborn's head is very delicate. Attaching or pulling the extractor with too much force can result in serious injuries to the baby. Also, misplacement of the vacuum can result in devastating injuries to the baby.
Common Injuries Include:
- Cerebral palsy
- Facial nerve palsy
- Brain hemorrhage or aneurysm
- Bruising or swelling of the head or brain
- Skull fractures
- Brachial plexus injuries
- Scalp lacerations
These injuries can put the baby's health at serious risk, both during the birth and in the future. If these injuries are not diagnosed and treated quickly, permanent injury or even death can result. The human brain is a delicate organ, and a baby's brain is no exception. In fact, a newborn's brain can be more susceptible to injury than an adult human's, because a newborn's skull consists of moving plates that have not yet fused together to fully encase the brain, like an adult's skull, does.
Use of Vacuum Extractor
A vacuum-extraction-assisted delivery is not appropriate in every birth. In fact, an obstetrician must have a medical indication prior to using the vacuum. Also, several prerequisites must be met and an obstetrician must ensure no contraindications exist prior to using the vacuum. For example, a pre-term infant should not be delivered by vacuum extraction. If the mother is healthy and able to push during labor, and if the labor is progressing normally from the first stage to the second, the baby probably does not need any help from a vacuum extractor. Finally, babies with head or scalp injuries or defects that have already been revealed in an ultrasound are usually not good candidates for vacuum extraction, though a physician may decide to use this form of extraction if an individual baby is at risk of more serious injury or death if extraction is not used.
In some cases, a doctor must decide whether to use a vacuum extractor, forceps, opt for a cesarean section, or simply allow more time for the baby to pass through the pelvis. Vacuums, forceps, and cesarean sections have advantages and disadvantages, risks and benefits, and the obstetrician has a duty to know these risks and benefits and to properly convey them to the patient as part of informed consent.
Seeking Justice for Nebraska Birth Injuries
Injuries caused by vacuum extractor misuse can be terrifying for new parents. It's natural to want to know what happened to your child and whether anything could have been done to prevent your baby's injuries. If your child was injured during birth, please don't hesitate to contact the experienced Nebraska birth injury attorneys at Cullan & Cullan LLC. We can help you discover what happened and hold any negligent parties accountable for the damage their actions caused.