Exploring the newborn head diameters in relation to current obstetric forceps’ dimensions: A systematic review

Abdul-Qader T. Ismail, Derick Yates, Jonathan Chester, Khaled M. K. Ismail

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
395 Downloads (Pure)


Objective: The aim of this study was to systematically search the literature for studies that reported term neonate head size and shape, in an attempt to determine the most appropriate dimensions for the obstetric forceps.

Study design: We searched the Ovid Medline, Ovid Embase and Ebscohost CINAHL databases from inception to February 2016. We predefined inclusion criteria to identify studies in which head width and length of asymptomatic, term neonates were measured soon after birth using direct, non-photographic methods A bespoke quality assessment score was used to evaluate the identified studies.

Results: Seven studies were identified which measured head width (biparietal diameter) in 551 neonates; giving a mean value of 94.0 mm (range 90.7 mm–95.5 mm). We identified one study which measured head length (mentovertical diameter) in 38 neonates; which gave a mean value of 134.5 mm (range 129 mm–139 mm).

Conclusion: This data, in conjunction with measurements of Neville Barnes’ and Wrigley’s forceps from our previous study, indicates current obstetric forceps’ blades are too long, and close together. Potentially, this could be contributing to neonatal and maternal injuries associated with operational vaginal deliveries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-29
JournalEuropean Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology
Early online date28 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • obstetric forceps
  • operative vaginal delivery
  • head width
  • biparietal diameter
  • head length
  • mentovertical diameter
  • systematic review


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