Objective: Is vacuum extraction-the method of first choice for assisting vaginal delivery in case of prolonged labor-losing ground in the developing world? And if it is, why? The paper tries to answer these disturbing questions, and examine their consequences.
Methods: A rapid Knowledge-Attitude-Practice (KAP) survey was conducted during 2003-2004 on the question of assisted vaginal delivery (AVD) by the use of the vacuum extractor. Public health specialists and obstetricians from 121 developing countries were consulted about their knowledge of the method in their country, its reputation (i.e. their attitude) and its use (practice).
Results: Overall 48% of the respondent countries have confirmed knowledge, positive attitude, teaching and countrywide use of the method, while 37% said the method is known and used by only a limited number of specialists who do not teach it, and 15% admitted no knowledge and therefore no use.
Conclusion: Given the evidence-based international recognition of the benefits of vacuum extraction (if practiced correctly and for appropriate indications), it is unjust to deprive women with prolonged labor (and their fetuses) of a simple intervention that can contribute to reducing life threatening complications. This unsophisticated worldwide survey, while not providing in-depth explanations, calls for rehabilitation of vacuum extraction in countries where it is disappearing and surgical extraction is not yet readily accessible to all women with prolonged labor.