When Should I Worry about Vacuum Extraction Injuries?

Vacuum extractions have recently begun to replace forceps extractions during prolonged or difficult deliveries. Instead of inserting forceps to clamp onto the baby’s skull, a suction cup is placed on the infant’s head, which is then gently pulled out using vacuum pressure. This new procedure has less risk of genital trauma and is thought to be gentler to the head of the infant.

However, vacuum extraction still carries risks. If it is done improperly, the newborn could suffer permanent injuries as a result of vacuum extraction. Since the key to avoiding permanent injury is early treatment, it is vital to know the difference between a common delivery injury in Virginia and an injury caused by improper vacuum extraction. 

Common Vacuum Extraction Injuries

Although they appear disconcerting, these symptoms are common after vacuum extractions, and are not usually permanent:

  • Bruising of the infant’s head. Bruising is quite common after vaginal deliveries, and should heal within a few weeks.
  • Swelling of the infant’s scalp. A result of pressure of the vacuum cap, this swelling should go down in a matter of days.
  • Hematoma. This is a pocket of blood outside the infant’s blood vessels, usually near the surface of the skin on the infant’s head. It may take a few months to heal.
  • Facial Paralysis. If pressure was placed on the infant’s facial nerves during extraction, it may take a few weeks for the infant’s bruised nerves to respond normally. If the facial paralysis has not resolved itself after a few weeks, it may require surgery to correct the nerve damage.
  • Jaundice. Nearly 3 out of 4 newborns will develop neonatal jaundice, which is typically treated with light therapy. Jaundice as a result of a hematoma may take up to three months to heal.
  • Subconjunctival Hemorrhage. This presents as bright red circle around the baby’s irises, and usually completely disappears within a week. 
  • Fractures or scalp abrasions. These will usually heal normally, but they may be a sign of improper care and could have been prevented.

Things To Look Out For

Permanent injuries that can result from vacuum extraction carry far fewer noticeable symptoms. For this reason, medical professionals should check thoroughly in the delivery room for:

  • Swelling of the brain
  • Internal bleeding
  • Shoulder dystocia (Erb's Palsy)
  • Cerebral Palsy

Discuss Your Case With a Fairfax Birth Injury Lawyer

Your doctor should have informed you of the risks of vacuum extraction and obtained your full consent before the procedure was done. If a caregiver failed to identify your child’s injury after a vacuum extraction, he may be guilty of negligent care. At Shevlin Smith, we hold doctors accountable for their mistakes—and assist the victims that have been forced to pay for them. If your child has suffered a prolonged birth injury after a vacuum extraction, contact a Washington D.C. birth injury lawyer today to find out how your child may receive proper treatment.

Request a free consultation here to discuss your case. For more information regarding your medical malpractice lawsuit, download one of our free guides to pursuing a medical malpractice case in Virginia and Washington D.C.