Delivery room help
When complications arise during childbirth, doctors may use a delivery device that holds onto a baby by using a gentle vacuum. The delivery systems use a flexible shaft that ends in a suction cup, which attaches to the baby’s head. A pump generates the vacuum to hold the baby and allow the doctor to assist maternal efforts during vaginal delivery.
This is traditionally a two-person operation, in which the physician places the extraction device and the nurse controls the pump. It’s also an operation that requires good teamwork and precise communication during a sometimes-frenzied event.
Prism Enterprises LP of San Antonio, Texas, has developed a vacuum– assisted delivery device that requires only one operator. The device consists of a soft hollow shaft and vacuum extractor cup and a rigid plastic handle that houses the vacuum pump and pressure gauge.
The device uses two plastic materials supplied by RTP Co. of Winona, Minn. Because the pump is sterilized before use, both materials have to resist radiation.
A polypropylene shaft and cup are molded as one piece that is discarded after each use, explained Grant Hassman, director of operations at Prism Enterprises. The give of the polypropylene enables a physician to place the cup properly on the infant’s head, yet the material is strong enough to withstand the considerable force applied during delivery, Hassman said. The material has a flexural modulus of 160,000 pounds per square inch and tensile elongation of 10 percent. The shaft has a tensile strength of 4,500 psi.
The handle is made of a colored acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene compound. It has notched Izod impact strength of 4.0 lbs.-ft. per inch, which allows it to stand up to delivery room use. As the vacuum is drawn, the gauge indicates the appropriate level for use with a particular vacuum cup. Different cups that are supplied with the device require slightly different vacuum pressures, explained Barb Wills, the director of marketing at Prism.
Copyright American Society of Mechanical Engineers Jan 2003
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