Instrumental vaginal delivery today: forceps delivery versus vacuum extraction

  • V. M. Roemer
  • B. Gern
  • D. G. Kieback
Conference paper


The era of modern operative obstetrics began over 300 years ago with the introduction of the Chamberlen forceps, which was most probably invented by Peter Chamberlen the elder in 1600 (15,21,32). He died in 1631. The Chamberlens were a remarkable family of physicians who for four generations, between 1569 and 1728, practiced obstetrics in England and became famous as accoucheurs. The Chamberlens kept the forceps a family secret until Hugh (1630 -?) tried to sell the instrument to Francois Mauriceau for 10,000 Lira in 1670. The deal, however, did not take place, since Hugh Chamberlen was not able to deliver instrumentally a woman (a rachitic dwarf) who was in labor since 8 days. In 1693 the instrument was sold to Roger Roonhuysen, a Dutch obstetrician, who used it ever since. Shortly afterwards the medical-pharmaceutical college of Amsterdam was given the sole privilege of licensing physicians to practice in Holland. To each of them, under the pledge of secrecy, Chamberlen’s invention was sold for a large sum. This practice continued for a number of years (32).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • V. M. Roemer
  • B. Gern
  • D. G. Kieback

There are no affiliations available

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