Approximately 5% (1 in 20) of all deliveries in the United States are operative vaginal deliveries. The past 20 years have seen a progressive shift away from the use of forceps in favor of the vacuum extractor as the instrument of choice. This article reviews in detail the indications, contraindications, patient selection criteria, choice of instrument, and technique for vacuum-assisted vaginal delivery. The use of vacuum extraction at the time of cesarean delivery will also be discussed. With vacuum extraction becoming increasingly popular, it is important that obstetric care providers are aware of the maternal and neonatal risks associated with such deliveries and of the options available to effect a safe and expedient delivery.
Keywords: Operative vaginal delivery; Vacuum; Vacuum-assisted vaginal delivery.