Article Title

Compliance with clinical guidelines increases the safety of vacuum-assisted delivery



Vacuum-assisted delivery (VAD) is a common and safe obstetric procedure. However, occasionally serious complications may occur. Clinical guidelines and College Statements have been developed to reduce the risk of serious adverse events. The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) College Statement C-Obs 16 has not been evaluated to see if advice improves outcomes.


The aim was to evaluate whether compliance with RANZCOG College Statement C-Obs 16 advice reduced the risk of serious adverse outcomes, specifically clinically significant subgaleal haemorrhage and major birth trauma.

Materials and Methods

Retrospective audit of VADs in a level five hospital (NSW Maternity and Neonatal capability framework) from January 2020 to 2021.


There were 1960 women who delivered in the study period, of whom 252 (12.8%) delivered by vacuum, and complete data were available from 241 cases. Statement compliance was observed in 81%. The main deviation from Statement compliance was pulls exceeding three. Statement compliance was associated with a significant reduction in the incidence of subgaleal haemorrhage (0% vs 11%, P = 0.0002), major birth trauma (3% vs 22%, P = 0.0001), requirement for neonatal resuscitation (14% vs 35%, P = 0.0026) and Apgar scores at one minute less than six (5% vs 22% P = 0.0006). Statement compliance was associated with a significant reduction in maternal blood loss at delivery (388 mL vs 438 mL, P = 0.01). Noncompliance with Statement advice was observed significantly more often in pregnancy complicated by gestational diabetes (3% vs 15%, P = 0.02) and birth requiring instrument change (4% vs 13% P = 0.031).


Compliance with a College Statement is associated with lower rates of subgaleal haemorrhage and major neonatal trauma. The main deviation from compliance was pulls in excess of three.

Keyword: birth trauma, clinical guidelines, quality and safety in healthcare, subgaleal haemorrhage, vacuum delivery


Birth trauma, Clinical guidelines, Quality and safety in healthcare, Subgaleal hemorrhage, Vacuum delivery

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