Gomco -v- Mogen Clamp


 Based on an article published in the Connecticut Post, 21.August.1997:
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Mohels, the practitioners of the ancient Jewish rite of circumcision, appear to inflict less pain on their subjects than do most physicians, possibly because of the tools they use, a researcher says.

In a study involving 48 newborn boys, the Mogen clamp used by mohels was found to be much quicker to deploy and less painful than the Gomco device favored by most doctors. Boys circumcised with a Mogen clamp had less than half the heart rate increase and total crying time of infants circumcised with a Gomco.

Blood oxygen levels also were higher in the Mogen infants, a sign that they suffered less stress, said Dr. Hema N. DeSilva, director of neonatology at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, the study leader and a regular user of the mohel’s preferred clamp.

“With the Mogen clamp, half of them didn’t cry at all. They were comfortable”, DeSilva said.

The study was published in last month’s edition of OB/GYN News. Dr. Thomas E. Wiswell, a professor of pediatrics at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and an expert on circumcision, said he found the report intriguing but warned that it was a relatively small study.

The findings were no surprise to Rabbi Yehuda Lebovics, a Los Angeles mohel who has performed more than 10,000 circumcisions. A mohel does not have to be a rabbi.

“Doctors are not as comfortable with the whole procedure”, he said.

“A mohel is used to working with a grandmother breathing down his neck” he added, noting that most Jewish circumcisions are done in the home.

The researchers concluded that infants should be anesthetized to reduce pain no matter which clamp is used.

It would be interesting to know whether the researchers eliminated two important variables before coming to their conclusions.

  1. A Jewish ritual circumcision takes place at 8 days old, whereas most non-religious ones are done anything from a few hours old to about 3 days. There are grounds to suspect that having a slightly older baby helps.

  2. Hospital circumcisions usually involve strapping the baby down to a Circumstraint board - often several minutes before the doctor is ready to deal with him. Jewish circumcisions have the baby held by the Sandek (godfather) where he is probably much more comfortable.


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