Are vacuum extraction injuries noticeable right away?

Vacuum extractors are delivery instruments that may cause infant brain bleeds (intracranial hemorrhages). Sometimes, babies with brain bleeds have swelling and bruising of the head. However, in other cases, there are no external signs. Due to the potential for severe brain injury that can be caused by hemorrhages – especially subgaleal hemorrhages –  early recognition and management is essential. Infants who experienced a difficult delivery in which vacuum extractors were used must have continuous monitoring that includes frequent vital sign assessment. Coagulation (blood clotting) studies and serial measurements of hematocrit (red blood cells) should be done to determine if the baby is bleeding, and in most cases, measurement of head circumference should be performed to gauge swelling.

Imaging for signs of brain bleeds caused by improper instrument use

Signs and symptoms of a brain bleed include respiratory depression, apnea, seizures, irritability, and altered tone and level of consciousness. If the baby had a difficult delivery or if the baby has any signs and symptoms of a brain bleed, head imaging studies should be done. Most hemorrhages – especially subdural and subarachnoid hemorrhages – may be diagnosed with an ultrasound. The best method of detection is through brain imaging studies via CT scan or an MRI, which can detect blood within the skull. A CT (computed tomography) scan uses x-rays and computer software to make pictures of structures inside the baby’s brain, and MRI (magnetic resonance imagiA nurse presses a stethoscope to a baby's uses magnetic waves to make pictures of the brain. Occasionally, ultrasonography and testing of cerebral spinal fluid are performed.

What happens when medical staff miss signs of brain injury?

Sometimes signs and symptoms of a brain bleed are missed by the medical team and head imaging may not be performed right away. There are instances in which physicians fail to recognize a brain bleed. Sometimes it takes several days for a brain bleed to become symptomatic. Bleeds that go longer without treatment usually result in more severe damage to the baby.

A baby’s permanent injury may go unnoticed until they reach 6.5 –  9 months and becomes mobile, at which time cerebral palsy may become apparent. In other cases, cerebral palsy and other forms of brain damage, such as ­intellectual disability and developmental delays, may not become apparent until the child is 3 – 5 years of age.

Award-winning birth injury & vacuum extractor injury lawyers helping children affected by birth injuries

Award-winning birth injury lawyer Jesse Reiter, president of ABC Law Centers, has been focusing solely on birth injury cases for  over three decades, and most of his cases involve hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) and cerebral palsy. Michigan birth injury lawyers Jesse Reiter and Rebecca Walsh are currently recognized as two of the best medical malpractice lawyers in America by U.S. News and World Report 2015, which also recognized ABC Law Centers as one of the best medical malpractice law firms in the nation. The attorneys at ABC Law Centers have won numerous awards for their advocacy of children and are members of the Birth Trauma Litigation Group (BTLG) and the Michigan Association for Justice (MAJ).

If your baby had vacuum extractor injuries and now has a birth injury such as cerebral palsy, a seizure disorder, or hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), the attorneys at ABC Law Centers can help. We have helped children throughout the country obtain compensation for lifelong treatment, therapy, and a secure future, and we give personal attention to each child and family we represent. Our firm has numerous multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements that attest to our success, and no fees are ever paid to our firm ­until we win your case. Email or call ABC Law Centers at 248-593-5100 for a free case evaluation. We are available 24 / 7 to speak with you.


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