An intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) is a type of cerebral hemorrhage whereby the brain's ventricular system begins to bleed in the area where the cerebrospinal fluid is produced. Typically an IVH is the result of physical trauma caused during or shortly after birth, for instance forceps clamped too tightly around an infant's head during labor or delivery can cause IVH. In addition to physical trauma, IVH can also be caused by issues such as fluctuations in cerebral blood flow during IV fluid boluses or the failure to give steroid therapy to premature babies with fetal lungs.
IVH is classified into four grades of severity:
- Grade 1: Bleeding occurs in the germinal matrix portion of the brain. The odds of the infant dying or suffering from neurological impairment are slim.
- Grade 2: In addition to the germinal matrix, there is bleeding inside of the ventricles. The odds of the infant dying or suffering a neurological impairment are higher than grade one but still rare.
- Grade 3: The excessive bleeding causes the ventricles to become enlarged by blood. The chances of infant dying or suffering a significant neurological impairment are significantly higher than with grade one or two IVH.
- Grade 4: Bleeding spreads into the brain tissues around the ventricles. The chances of the infant dying are around 50% and significant neurological impairments are likely.
Infants who are born prematurely tend to be the most susceptible to suffering IVH. Physical trauma is rarely the cause of IVH in premature infants. In fact, IVH in preterm babies is usually the result of hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy causes cell death and a weakening of the blood vessel walls, which results in bleeding in the brain.
In the case of non-premature infants, IVH is typically caused by physical trauma during the birthing process. The following may be responsible for IVH in non-premature infants:
- The infant was stuck in the birth canal
- Forceps were used during the delivery, causing blood flow to the brain to be cut off
- A vacuum was used during delivery, causing a lack of blood flow
While not always the case, parents of infants who have suffered an IVH may have grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the delivering doctor and their medical staff. In some cases the IVH is caused because a doctor failed to identify that the infant's head was under significant pressure in the birth canal, improperly used forceps or a vacuum when removing the baby, or used excessive force during the birthing process. In these instances the doctor may have acted negligently and could be liable for medical malpractice. In a medical malpractice lawsuit, an infant's family can recover compensation for medical bills, damage to future earning potential, and pain and suffering.
Has your child suffered an intraventricular hemorrhage? If so, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. For a free, no-obligation review of your legal options, call 212.406.1700 or contact us online. Queller, Fisher, Washor, Fuchs & Kool will review your claim to see if you may be able to receive compensation.