Meet Desperate Debra, the emergency C-section simulator

When the baby's head gets stuck in the mother's pelvis, the situation can become life-threatening for both. Complications could be reduced by training with this model, the first of its kind.
Written by Janet Fang, Contributor

The UK National Health Service has just launched an emergency cesarean simulator to help train doctors to perform complex C-sections.

During emergency cesareans in advanced stages of labor, the baby’s head can get stuck in the mother’s pelvis – a potentially life-threatening situation for both mothers and babies. This affects around 15 births a day in the UK.

Dubbed Desperate Debra, the silicone and plastic model of a pregnant abdomen simulates how a stuck baby needs to be pushed back into the uterus before being removed through an incision in the abdomen.

It’s the world’s first impacted fetal head simulator, and it features:

  • a pre-cut cesarean incision, uterus, and fetal head
  • a mechanism to replicate the fetus’ head getting lodged in the pelvis
  • the soft parts of a baby's head where the bones have yet to fuse (called the fontanelles), which allows doctors to work out the precise position of the skull.
  • It can also be configured to have different head positions and a higher or lower level of delivery difficulty (i.e. making the head more or less stuck in the pelvis).
  • The pelvic bone and fontanelles were been cast from real ones, and the movements of the baby’s head and neck are mimicked realistically.

Emergency cesareans at full dilation are usually encountered late at night, when more experienced doctors may not be available. Using Desperate Debra to help train doctors in this scenario should reduce the likelihood of complications.

The simulator’s nickname reflects the potential seriousness of such situations. "You are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea," says co-developer Andrew Shennan at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital. "You can't get the baby out normally, the mother is exhausted - it is a scary and difficult situation. An emergency cesarean is the best thing to do."

He adds: "It teaches the paradox between brute force to get the baby out, and a gentle touch as to not cause any damage to the soft tissues."

Desperate Debra has been launched by Guy's and St Thomas's and NHS Fife. The model, manufactured by Adam,Rouilly is now ready for mass production.

[Via BBC, Wired]

Images: Adam,Rouilly

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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