The pros and cons of suctioning at the perineum (intrapartum) and post-delivery with and without meconium

Sithembiso Velaphi, Dharmapuri Vidyasagar
Seminars in Fetal & Neonatal Medicine 2008, 13 (6): 375-82
Routine oronasopharyngeal suctioning (ONPS) of the infant at delivery is a common practice in the delivery room. ONPS is performed to remove lung fluid, meconium, or other secretions from the airway, thereby improving oxygenation and/or preventing aspiration. However, there are controversies regarding this practice, as it seems to be associated with complications. In the presence of clear amniotic fluid, routine ONPS in infants born vaginally and by cesarean section is associated with bradycardia, apnea, and delays in achieving normal oxygen saturations, with no benefit. Intrapartum ONPS and post-natal endotracheal suctioning of vigorous infants born through meconium-stained amniotic fluid (MSAF) does not prevent meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS). Although depressed infants born through MSAF are at risk of developing MAS, there is no evidence that endotracheal suctioning of these infants reduces MAS.

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