A technological advance for 21st century obstetricians: the electronically-controlled vacuum extractor

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Abstract

Objective:

To describe an innovative electronically-controlled vacuum extractor (VE) in detail and to illustrate its performance characteristics, as observed in a laboratory study.

Design:

Thirty simulated, vacuum-assisted deliveries.

Main outcome measure(s):

(1) The ability to measure in real-time of the pull applied and to sound an alert, when the traction approaches the negative pressure under the cup, to prevent its detachment. (2) The recording and printing of a graphic representation of the pull applied (vacuum delivery graph). (3) The emission of a warning signal when the 15-min time limit of continuous cup application on the fetal scalp, is reached.

Results:

No cup detachment occurred in any of the 15 vacuum-assisted deliveries, in which traction was kept below the adhesive force of the cup [44 lb (20 kg)], except in three cases, due to loss of negative pressure. In the remaining 15 tests, in which traction was greater than the adhesive force of the cup, “pull-offs” inevitably occurred. Furthermore, upon reaching the 15-min time limit of continuous cup application on the fetal cephalic model, a warning signal was emitted, as programmed.

Conclusions

We demonstrated that the electronically-controlled VE, with its distinctive pull-sensing handle, performs suitably for its intended purposes. The ability of the modernized device to decrease the incidence of cup detachment, secondary to the inadvertent application of excessive traction, may result in considerable safety, medico-legal and didactic advantages.

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