Placental abruption at near-term and term gestations: pathophysiology, epidemiology, diagnosis, and management

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2023 May;228(5S):S1313-S1329. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2022.06.059. Epub 2023 Mar 23.


Placental abruption is the premature separation of the placenta from its uterine attachment before the delivery of a fetus. The clinical manifestations of abruption typically include vaginal bleeding and abdominal pain with a wide variety of abnormal fetal heart rate patterns. Clinical challenges arise when pregnant people with this condition present with profound vaginal bleeding, necessitating urgent delivery, especially when there is a concern for maternal and fetal compromise and coagulopathy. Abruption occurs in 0.6% to 1.2% of all pregnancies, with nearly half of abruption occurring at term gestations. An exposition of abruption at near-term (defined as the late preterm period from 34 0/7 to 36 6/7 weeks of gestation) and term (defined as ≥37 weeks of gestation) provides unique insights into its direct effects, as risks associated with preterm birth do not impact outcomes. Here, we explore the pathophysiology, epidemiology, and diagnosis of abruption. We discuss the interaction of chronic processes (decidual and uteroplacental vasculopathy) and acute processes (shearing forces applied to the abdomen) that underlie the pathophysiology. Risk factors for abruption and strengths of association are summarized. Sonographic findings of abruption and fetal heart rate tracings are presented. In addition, we propose a management algorithm for acute abruption that incorporates blood loss, vital signs, and urine output, among other factors. Lastly, we discuss blood component therapy, viscoelastic point-of-care testing, disseminated intravascular coagulopathy, and management of abruption complicated by fetal death. The review seeks to provide comprehensive, clinically focused guidance during a gestational age range when neonatal outcomes can often be favorable if rapid and evidence-based care is optimized.

PMID:37164498 | DOI:10.1016/j.ajog.2022.06.059

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