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Obstetrical hemorrhage

Obstetrical hemorrhage
Classification & external resources
ICD-10 O20, O46, O67, O72

Obstetrical hemorrhage refers to heavy bleeding during pregnancy, labor, or the puerperium. Bleeding may be vaginal and external, or, less commonly but more dangerously, internal, into the abdominal cavity. Typically bleeding is related to the pregnancy itself, but some forms of bleeding are caused by other events. Obstetrical hemorrhage is a major cause of maternal mortality.


Early pregnancy bleeding

The most common bleeding event is the loss of a pregnancy, a miscarriage, medically also called an abortion. Bleeding from an early miscarriages may be similar to that of a heavy menstruation, but later on, a pregnancy loss may be accompanied but excessive or prolonged bleeding. A physician may propose to perform a D&C for treatment. An ectopic pregnancy may lead to bleeding, often internally, that could be fatal if untreated.

Late pregnancy bleeding

The primary consideration is the presence of a placenta previa, a condition that usually needs to be resolved by delivering the baby via cesarian section. Also a placental abruption can lead to obstetrical hemorrhage, some times concealed.

Bleeding during labor

Beside placenta previa and placental abruption, uterine rupture can occur as a very serious condition leading to internal or external bleeding. Bleeding from the fetus is rare, usually not heavy, but always very serious for the baby.

After delivery (Postpartum)

Postpartum hemorrhage is the loss of ≥500mL of blood, and is the most common cause of death of the delivering mother within the developed world.[1] Causes of postpartum hemorrhage are generally broken down into four categories, commonly called "The Four T's":

  • Trauma from the delivery may tear tissue and vessels leading to significant postpartum bleeding.
  • Uterine atony (Tone) refers to the inability of the uterus to contract and may lead to continuous bleeding. Retained placental tissue and infection may contribute to uterine atony.
  • Tissue refers to any cellular debris from the placenta or fetus that may be left in the uterus, causing the uterus to not contract.
  • Thrombin refers to some failure of clotting, such as with diseases known as coagulopathies.

Unrelated bleeding

Pregnant patients may have bleeding from the reproductive tract due to trauma, including sexual assault, neoplasm, most commonly cervical cancer, and hematologic disorders.


The success of modern obstetrics is based to a good degree on the ability to recognize risk patients for obstetrical hemorrhage and their appropriate management. Key in this are methods of examination, including obstetric ultrasonography, surgical obstetrics, blood transfusion, and pharmacological support.

See also

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Obstetrical_hemorrhage". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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