Temporary Erb-Duchenne palsy without shoulder dystocia or traction to the fetal head

Robert H. Allen, Edith D. Gurewitsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Although many retrospective studies report that brachial plexus palsies occur after vaginal delivery in the absence of recorded shoulder dystocia, there are no known prospective reports by a treating clinician (PubMed, English language only, 1952-June 2004, search terms: shoulder dystocia, nonshoulder dystocia, obstetric brachial plexus injory, Erb's palsy, Erb-Duchenne palsy, spontaneous vaginal delivery). CASE: A multiparous patient presented with a birth plan requesting that the baby be allowed to deliver on its own, without traction on the head and without suctioning. Although induced at term for elevated blood pressure, the otherwise healthy patient experienced a normal labor with a 30-minute second stage. At delivery, which was videotaped by the father, the fetal head presented over an intact perineum in a right-occiput-anterior position. Without traction, the anterior shoulder delivered spontaneously with the next contraction and Valsalva, followed by the posterior shoulder. The trunk followed routinely. The average-weight for gestational age neonate exhibited an Erb-Duchenne palsy of the right (posterior) arm that resolved on the fourth day of life. CONCLUSION: Temporary Erb-Duchenne palsy can occur in the posterior arm after normal labor and spontaneous delivery without shoulder dystocia or traction on the fetal head.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1210-1212
Number of pages3
JournalObstetrics and gynecology
Issue number5 II
StatePublished - May 1 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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