Placental abruption (patient information)

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Placental abruption

Overview

What are the symptoms?

What are the causes?

Who is at highest risk?

When to seek urgent medical care?

Diagnosis

Treatment options

Where to find medical care for Placental abruption?

What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?

Possible complications

Prevention

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Editor-in-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S.,M.D. [1] Phone:617-632-7753; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Lakshmi Gopalakrishnan, M.B.B.S.

Overview

Placenta abruptio is the separation of the placenta (the organ that nourishes the fetus) from its attachment to the uterus wall before the baby is delivered.

What are the symptoms?

What are the causes?

  • The exact cause of a placental abruption may be hard to determine.
  • Direct causes are rare, but include:
  • Injury to the belly area (abdomen) from a fall, hit to the abdomen, or automobile accident
  • Sudden loss of uterine volume (can occur with rapid loss of amniotic fluid or after a first twin is delivered)
  • Placental abruption, which includes any amount of placental separation before delivery, occurs in about 1 out of 150 deliveries. The severe form, which can cause the baby to die, occurs only in about 1 out of 800 to 1,600 deliveries.

Who is at highest risk?

Risk factors include:

When to seek urgent medical care?

  • Call your health care provider if you are in an auto accident, even if the accident is minor.
  • Call your doctor right away if you have bleeding during pregnancy.
  • See your health care provider right away, call your local emergency number (such as 911), or go to the emergency room if you are pregnant and have vaginal bleeding and severe abdominal pain or contractions during your pregnancy.
  • Placental abruption can quickly become an emergency condition that threatens the life of both the mother and baby.

Diagnosis

Tests may include:

Treatment options

  • The mother will be carefully monitored for symptoms of shock.
  • The unborn baby will be watched for signs of distress, which includes an abnormal heart rate.
  • Baby is very premature
  • There is only a small placental separation
  • The mother may be kept in the hospital for close observation. She may be released after several days if the condition does not get worse.
  • If the fetus is developed enough, vaginal delivery may be done if it is safe for the mother and child. Otherwise, a cesarean section may be done.

Where to find medical care for Placental abruption?

Directions to Hospitals Treating Placental abruption

What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?

  • The mother does not usually die from this condition.
  • However, all of the following increase the risk for death in both the mother and baby:
  • Closed cervix
  • Delayed diagnosis and treatment of placental abruption
  • Excessive blood loss, leading to shock
  • Hidden (concealed) uterine bleeding in pregnancy
  • No labor
  • Fetal distress occurs early in the condition in about half of all cases.
  • Infants who live have a 40-50% chance of complications, which range from mild to severe.

Possible complications

  • Excess blood loss may lead to shock and possible death in the mother or baby.

Prevention

  • Avoid drinking, smoking, or using recreational drugs during pregnancy.
  • Get early and regular prenatal care.
  • Recognizing and managing conditions in the mother such as diabetes and high blood pressure also decrease the risk of placental abruption.

Sources

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000901.htm



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