How Is Cephalopelvic Disproportion Diagnosed And Treated?


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Even though most babies are born without medical complications, numerous problems can arise during childbirth. Cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD) is one of those problems. It occurs when the baby cannot fit through the mother's birth canal. Therefore, a doctor delaying or attempting a vaginal delivery for too long could harm both the baby and the mother.

How Is Cephalopelvic Disproportion Diagnosed?

Doctors can’t always predict if a baby will be born with cephalopelvic disproportion. It is difficult to know if the mother’s body will transition and make enough room for the baby to be born vaginally.

Fortunately, there are some methods that doctors can use to increase the likelihood of identifying CPD and then take the appropriate measures to eliminate complications. Some of the proactive measures that can be taken include:

  • Ultrasound – Using ultrasound allows doctors to observe the size and shape of the baby’s head,  compare it to standardized growth charts, and determine if there is a potential risk of CPD.
  • Clinical pelvimetry – This method involves a doctor using their hands to determine the birth canal’s size. Sometimes, a pelvimeter is used.
  • MRI pelvimetry – Pelvimetry by MRI also measures the size of the mother’s birth canal, but magnetic resonance imaging is used instead of a physical examination.
  • CT or X-ray pelvimetry – This method is used to measure the size of the baby’s head and the mother’s pelvis. However, CT or X-ray pelvimetry is not used very often because of the risks involved with a baby being exposed to radiation.  

When a doctor suspects a baby has CPD, the risk factors should be thoroughly examined, including performing a blood glucose test to determine whether the mother has gestational diabetes. The doctor should also consider whether a non-stress test is called for to monitor the baby’s well-being. This test shows the baby’s heart rate in relation to its movements. Both will give a doctor a better understanding of the likelihood that the baby has CPD.

What Are The Appropriate Treatment Options For Cephalopelvic Disproportion?

When CPD is suspected before the baby is born, vaginal birth is likely unviable. In that case, the doctor will deem that a vaginal birth is too risky to attempt and order a C-section. This is typically the best and safest option for a mother and baby.

If CPD isn’t identified before birth and a vaginal delivery progresses to the time when waiting to perform a C-section could be dangerous for the baby, or if the doctor believes that a vaginal delivery is still possible, the mother may be asked to squat or take some other upright position. This can increase the capacity of the pelvis by up to 30 percent. If this fails, the appropriate treatment is an emergency C-section.

If a doctor fails to recognize CPD or delays a C-section too long, and there are injuries to the baby, parents may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

What Complications Can Cephalopelvic Disproportion Cause?

The complications from cephalopelvic disproportion for the baby can range from minor to extremely serious, even life-threatening. The injuries include:

  • Shoulder dystocia
  • Brain damage
  • Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy
  • Asphyxia
  • Hemorrhaging
  • Erb’s palsy
  • Seizure disorders
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental delays
  • Brachial plexus injury
  • Paralysis
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Death

When correctly diagnosed and acted on quickly, no evidence supports that CPD poses a risk to mothers or their babies. However, if there is a delay in diagnosis and/or treatment, the complications from CPD can be serious.

What Should You Do About Cephalopelvic Disproportion Injuries In PA?

Many different birth injuries can happen during labor and delivery, including CPD and a delay in performing a C-section. In addition, a negligent delay in performing a C-section is directly linked to the cause of many types of brain injuries, including cerebral palsy.

When a baby is injured due to a medical professional’s negligence, it’s devastating for the child and the family. Suppose your baby suffered injuries because your doctor failed to diagnose CPD or there was a delay in appropriate action. In that case, you might be able to file a birth injury lawsuit and seek compensation for your damages.

Ross Feller Casey has an unmatched record of successfully litigating birth injury cases like yours, and we are ready to help you seek justice for your family. We have a team of top, Ivy League-trained doctors right on our staff to help litigate even the most challenging birth injury cases.

Contact Ross Feller Casey today for an appointment to review your birth injury case with one of our experienced birth injury lawyers. There is no charge to you until we win your case.

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