The Tydeman tube: helping surgeons perform safer caesarean sections

Tommy’s is working with Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity to find innovative solutions to the tricky problem of late c-sections.
  • Author's list

    Dr Annette Briley, Mr Paul Seed, Dr Graham Tydeman, Professor Andrew Shennan

Why do we need this research?

Delivering a baby by caesarean can be more difficult if done in the late first or second stages of labour, instead of before or very early in labour. One of the reasons is because the baby’s head will be much lower down, making it harder to get to. It is made even more difficult because the contraction of the womb creates a partial vacuum between the mother and the baby’s head. The contractions act like a suction cup to remove the air, meaning the baby’s head can get stuck. To deliver the baby, the surgeon must release this vacuum.

At the moment, this affects up to 50,000 women every year, but there isn’t a clear policy for what to do when this happens. We need to find a way to address this problem and help the surgeon to safely remove the baby.

What’s happening in this project?

Tommy’s is working with the Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity to change this. Our researchers have created a device called the Tydeman Tube that can be inserted into the vagina. Once there, it helps air to flow around the baby’s head, breaking the vacuum and releasing the baby.

So far, the Tydeman Tube has been tested in a small number of cases, with positive results. Our researchers are now testing the device more widely at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals. The team plan to involve the company Clinical Innovations to help develop and commercialise the device in the future.

What difference will this project make?

The Tydeman Tube could help surgeons during caesarean sections to deliver babies in the late stages of labour safely, reducing the risk of complications and injury for mother and baby.

Thanks for your interest in our research

Tommy's funds research across the UK investigating the reasons for miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth. We can keep you updated on ways you can support our work. If you would like to join our fight against baby loss and premature birth, click here.

This study takes place in a Tommy's centre and is funded by Tommy's and Guy's and St Thomas' Charity Innovations Stream