Medical Innovations: Improving on Forceps and Vacuum Extractors
Forceps, tong-like devices used to grab a baby’s head and pull it out of the birth canal, have been around since about 1634. The principle behind vacuum extractors, which creates suction on a baby’s head to pull it out, is more recent, having first been used sometime around 1705. Though doctors and other medical professional have improved upon these devices over the years, the concepts remain the same, and these are the options available to respond to a difficult delivery particularly prolonged delivery before a cesarean section.
However, it took a mechanic from Argentina to develop a completely new concept, the Odón Device. His idea, after watching a YouTube video on extracting a cork stuck inside a wine bottle, was to place a bag around the infant’s head, inflate it to create pressure around the head, and to gently pull the infant out.
Doctors around the world are excited by this new approach. The World Health Organization is supporting it, and an American technology company has licensed it for production.
In particular, this has ramifications for developing countries and areas where cesarean section may not be possible, or where trained medical professionals are not widely available. The Odón device is expected to be inexpensive, somewhat less than $50.00 per device. The training required to use it is reportedly minimal, and it is believed that midwives or others may be educated on its practical use.
Of course, the most important thing is that the device be tested for safety. It is now being used in studies in Argentina and rural South Africa.
One open question is whether this device will begin to replace vacuum extractors and forceps delivery in developed countries, like the United States. There will certainly be extensive studies to compare the risks and benefits of the new device versus the old way of doing things. Some of the risks of forceps delivery and vacuum delivery include injuries to the head, skull fracture, nerve palsy, brain bleeding and brachial plexus injuries. Of course, brain injuries or delays in delivery can cause developmental delays and cerebral palsy.
If your child was injured during a forceps delivery or vacuum extractor delivery, contact our medical malpractice lawyers to evaluate your case. We can review the medical records and tell you what happened during the delivery, and whether your doctors should have done more to prevent your baby’s injury. You can reach us at (440) 252-4399 or online for a free consultation.