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Caput succedaneum is a diffuse swelling of the scalp caused by the pressure of the scalp against the dilating cervix during labour. It may extend over the midline (as opposed to cephalhaematoma) and is associated with moulding of the head.

Caput can make it difficult to define the position of the fetal head. It is graded subjectively from 0 (none) to +3 (marked).

The vacuum cup may not maintain its suction if there is marked caput – forceps should be considered as a first-line instrument

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