Posted by RS B on 24th April 2014

Placental Infarction In Pregnancy Causes: Can It Cause Fetal Death?

Infarction is medically defined to be the obstruction of the flow of blood to a region of tissue or to an organ, mostly by an embolus or by a thrombus, which leads to the death of the tissue. Placental infarction hence occurs when there is an obstruction or interruption of blood supply to part of the placenta, causing cell death.

The consequences of a placental infarction depend on whether the infarct is small or if more than a third or a half of the placental parenchyma is lost or infarcted in some fashion.

If it is the former then there may be no effect on the fetus however if it is the latter, then the supply of blood to the fetus can have a negative impact and may end in fetal demise. A placental infarction is the infestation of ischemic villous necrosis in the localized area of the placenta. These infarcts are commonly found at the periphery of the placenta.

Causes Of Placental Infarction

Placental infarction can be caused due to:

  • Hypertension – microscopic thrombi or otherwise known as blood clots sometimes form in blood vessels which result in the blood flow being impeded. This constriction or vasoconstriction of blood vessels which can be due to hypertension can result in placental infarction.
  • Cocaine – or certain substances like cocaine have vasoactive properties which can also lead to the obstruction of blood flow to the placenta.
  • Connective-tissue disorders – maternal connective-tissue disorders can be an important cause of second trimester fetal loss. APL or antiphospholipid antibodies which have lupus anticoagulant and anticardiolipin antibodies are often found in patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus which is a form of connective disease, which normally has a poor pregnancy outcome.

Placental infarcts are also a common feature of an aging placenta which is normal; this is found in almost 21 percent of non-complicated pregnancy terms which most often have no clinical significance.

Placental infarction caused due to maternal diseases such as Scleroderma and rheumatoid arthritis in addition to hypertension and lupus antiphospholipid antibody syndrome stands the risk of extensive placental retardation.

Placental Infarction And Fetal Death

If the infarction is a maternal floor infarction, it can lead to uteroplacental insufficiency and fetal demise. Although this is not a common phenomenon, this particular condition has a recurrence tendency in future pregnancies. Although this form of infarction is not considered to be true placental infarctions as they occur due to a deposition of fibrin surrounding the chorionic vili.

As per studies, the frequency of placental infarcts is higher in hypertensive women than in women with normal blood pressure. And placental infarctions have a negative effect on the development and growth of fetuses. Another form of infarction is placental cerebral infarction in which there is a decrease of blood flow to the fetus’ brain.

The symptoms of placental infarction are mostly similar to symptoms of pre-eclampsia, stillbirth and small uterus.

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