Shoulder dystocia: an obstetrical emergency.

Joana Borges Marques, Ana Reynolds

Abstract


Shoulder dystocia is one of the most feared obstetric emergencies due to related maternal and neonatal complications and therefore, the growing of medico-legal litigation that it entails. Although associated with risk factors such as fetal macrossomia, gestacional diabetes and instrumented delivery, the majority of cases are unpredictable. The lack of a consensus on shoulder dystocia diagnosis causes variations on its incidence and hampers a more comprehensive analysis. Management guidelines described for its resolution include several manoeuvres but the ideal sequence of procedures is not clearly defined in more severe cases. Hands-on and team training, through simulation-based techniques applied to medicine, seems to be a promising method to learn how to deal with shoulder dystocia having in mind a reduction in related maternal or neonatal morbidity and mortality. The main goal of this paper is to provide a comprehensive revision of shoulder dystocia highlighting its relevance as an obstetric emergency. A reflection on the management is presented emphasising the importance of simulation-based training.

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