Placental abruption is an uncommon, but serious pregnancy complication
that occurs when the placental lining separates from the mother’s
uterus prior to delivery.
Placental abruption can begin anytime after the 20th week of pregnancy.
Symptoms of placental abruption include vaginal bleeding, abdominal pain,
back pain, uterine or abdominal tenderness, contractions, and decreased
fetal movement. In close to a quarter of cases, an abruption causes the
woman to go into labor prematurely.
Diagnosis & Care
Doctors use several methods to diagnose placental abruption during pregnancy
so that proper treatment can be undertaken, but unfortunately, this condition
can only truly be diagnosed after delivery, when the placenta can be examined.
To narrow down possible sources of vaginal bleeding, health care providers
may run blood tests, do an ultrasound, or utilize fetal monitoring. Without
proper intervention, fetal and maternal distress or death can occur. The
severity of fetal distress depends on the degree of placental separation.
Delivery is required in cases of severe abruption or when significant
fetal or maternal distress occurs, even in cases of profound prematurity.
All other problems and complications associated with premature deliveries
are also possible.
The costs associated with placental abruption can be substantial, especially
if the mother and baby survive, but sustain permanent injury. If not caught
and treated immediately, the mother could suffer internal hemorrhaging,
infection, and uterine scarring that could require a hysterectomy and
endanger her overall health. Since the placenta is the baby’s sole
source of oxygen, damage or detachment causes oxygen deprivation, which
can result in brain damage, birth defects, or death. Placental abruption
can be caused by the failure of a doctor to properly monitor the mother’s
condition or a missed diagnosis of high blood pressure. The medical malpractice
lawyer’s at the Law Offices of Wais, Vogelstein, Forman & Offutt
can help you recover compensation and other damages if you or a loved
one have been affected by a health care provider’s negligence.
Appropriate treatment depends on the severity and location of the separation
as well as the age of the fetus. Separations can be partial or complete
and there are varying different degrees of each. When there is a partial
separation and the fetus has not reached maturity, bed rest and close
monitoring are generally prescribed. If there is substantial bleeding,
a transfusion may be necessary. When there is a complete separation, delivery
is the safest option for both the mother and the baby. If the baby is
in distress or the mother is bleeding heavily, a cesarean delivery may
Unfortunately, there is no treatment that can stop the placenta from detaching
and there is no way to reattach it. Any type of placental abruption can
lead to premature birth and low birth weight. In cases where severe placental
abruption occurs, fetal death occurs approximately 15% of the time.
Books & Resources For more information on placental abruption, the following resources are