Gorovitz & Borten, P.C.
Attorneys at Law

550 Cochituate Road, Suite 25
Framingham, Massachusetts
Tel: (781) 890-9095
Placenta Abruptio
Placenta abruptio is the premature separation of the placenta from the site of
uterine implantation after the 20th week of gestation and before the delivery of
the fetus. In most pregnancies, the placenta remains firmly attached to the uterus
and is expulsed within minutes to an hour following the delivery of the newborn
(also known as the 'afterbirth'). Placenta abruptio occurs up to 1 of every 150

Risk factors associated with placenta abruptio include:

  • Chronic high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Pregnancy induced hypertension
  • History of a prior placenta abruptio
  • Large number of prior deliveries
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Cocaine use
  • Heavy alcohol ingestion
  • Chorioamnionitis
  • Previous uterine scar
  • Trauma to the uterus

Symptoms associated with placenta abruptio include:

  • Abdominal pain (hard, rigid feeling uterus)
  • Back pain and uterine tenderness
  • Abnormal uterine contractions
  • Unexplained premature labor
  • Fetal distress
  • Vaginal bleeding (light or heavy)
  • Concealed placenta abruptio may not have vaginal bleeding until late in
    the process
  • Fetal death

Tests used to diagnose a placenta abruptio include:

  • Abdominal exam
  • Pelvic exam
  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • CBC (complete blood count)
  • Fibrinogen level
  • Prothrombin
  • Partial thromboplastin
  • D-dimer

Treatment of placenta abruptio requires careful monitoring of the mother and the
fetus. The mother should be monitored for signs and symptoms of shock. Blood
loss due to the placenta abruptio may be concealed behind the placenta and not
be  visible as vaginal bleeding. Fluid replacement intravenously and blood
transfusion may be required to replace blood loss. The fetus must be closely
monitored for signs of fetal distress. The severity of fetal distress corresponds
with the degree of placental separation.

If the fetus' maturity is confirmed, an emergency cesarean section may be
indicated. If the fetus is immature and the mother's condition is stable, close
observation is sometimes utilized. Excessive blood loss resulting in shock can
range from mild to severe. Intrauterine fetal death and/or maternal death have
been reported as complication of a severe placenta abruptio.

The key to successful treatment of a pregnant patient suffering a placenta
abruptio is early diagnosis. Delay in diagnosis and treatment leads to a cascade
of complications and inevitable fetal death. At times, immediate cesarean section
is the only available alternative to preserve the health of mother and fetus.

If the child's injury was the result of intrauterine fetal hypoxia (asphyxia)
secondary to a placenta abruptio, it was diagnosable, avoidable, preventable
and treatable. The injury may be the result of a  medical provider's mistake in
handling an obstetrical condition. Your child and you as parents of the child are
entitled to receive compensation. If your child's condition was the result of
medical negligence, allow
Dr. Borten and the Boston area medical malpractice
attorneys at Gorovitz & Borten help you assert your rights and get the
compensation you deserve.
Contact Information
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(when possible), please contact us by phone, fax or e-mail with your question or

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