Frequent fetal heart-rate monitoring for early detection of abruptio placentae in severe proteinuric hypertension

Odendaal H.J. ; Pattinson R.C. ; Du Toit R. ; Grove D. (1988)


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Abruptio placentae occurred in 16 of 132 patients with severe pre-eclampsia who were admitted to an obstetric high-risk ward before 34 weeks' gestation. These 16 patients were compared with those who did not develop abruptio placentae. Systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels, proteinuria and birth weights did not differ significantly between the two groups. Apgar scores were significantly lower in the abruptio placentae group. There were 6 intra-uterine and 2 neonatal deaths in the abruptio placentae group (50% perinatal mortality (PNM)) and 3 intra-uterine and 16 neonatal deaths in the other group (18% PNM). Four patients with abruptio placentae presented with abnormal fetal heart-rate patterns and 8 with abdominal pain. No warning signs were present in 3 patients and the fetal heart-rate pattern before delivery was not available in 1 patient. Abnormal fetal heart-rate patterns were present in 5 of the 8 patients who presented with pain. Abruptio placentae occurring in patients with severe proteinuric hypertension carries a high PNM. Frequent monitoring of the fetal heart rate sometimes helps to diagnose fetal distress before the clinical signs of abruption become apparent.

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