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A Journal on Forensic Medicine
Minerva Medicolegale 2007 March;127(1):1-4
Maximum tensile stress and the umbilical cord: possible anatomo-clinical correlations
Varetto L., Gargallo C., Quaranta F.
Dipartimento di Anatomia Farmacologia e Medicina Legale Università degli Studi di Torino, Torino
Aim. The purpose of the present study was two-fold: 1) to see if the maximum tensile stress of the umbilical cord is such as to explain its rupture during childbirth in an erect position, solely as a result of the fall of the baby; 2) assess whether in concomitance with delivery, the tensile strength of the cord varies in relation to the anatomoclinical features of the mother, the newborn, the embryofoetal adnexae and the course of the pregnancy.
Methods. The study was carried out on 79 human umbilical cords from physiological term deliveries which took place at the Sant’Anna Hospital of Turin. The cords, in their entirety and still joined to the placenta, were subjected to uniaxial tensile mechanical tests. In the interests of test repeatability, the tensile strength was applied by means of a special machine.
Results. Processing of the data pointed to variability in the tensile strength of the umbilical cord which proved to be on average equal to 5.111 kg; this variability did not appear to be statistically significant with respect to any of the anatomoclinical variables considered.
Conclusion. Analysis of the data pointed to the following conclusions: 1) spontaneous rupture of the cord following the fall of the foetus after expulsion in the case of delivery in the erect position is to be considered possible; 2) attempts to correlate the tensile stress of the umbilical cord and the anatomoclinical characteristics investigated were substantially fruitless, in the sense that no significant correlations emerged with the parameters considered, a finding that was a surprise, particularly in the case of some of them.