Placental abruption


Placental abruption, also referred to as abruptio placentae, is a serious complication of pregnancy that requires immediate medical attention, Placental abruption occurs when the placenta is partially or entirely separates from the uterus’ inner wall prior to delivery.

This may result in the fetus receiving less oxygen and nutrition, as well as causing the parent to have significant bleeding. Abdominal pain and bleeding are possible symptoms, particularly in the third trimester.

A healthcare professional will determine the diagnosis and cause of action for a placental abruption based on the extent of the separation and the fetus’ gestational age. If placental abruption is left untreated, it puts both the mother and the child in danger.

Different types of placental abruption are:

  • Total or complete: When the placenta entirely separates from the uterine wall, it causes a complete or total placental abruption. With this kind of abruption, the vaginal bleeding is typically more severe.
  • Partial: When the placenta partially separates from the uterine wall, this is known as a partial placental abruption.
  • Revealed: Moderate to severe vaginal bleeding that is visible.
  • Concealed: Vaginal bleeding from concealed placental abruptions is minimal or absent. Between the placenta and uterine wall, the blood is trapped.


Placental abruption symptoms vary from person to person. The last trimester of pregnancy, especially in the final few weeks before delivery, is when placental abruption is most likely to happen. Signs and symptoms of placental abruption include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Back pain
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Uterine tenderness
  • Uterine contractions that are longer than the usual labor

Vaginal bleeding can vary significantly in volume, and it is not always clear how much of the placenta has actually detached from the uterus. Due to the trapped blood between the placenta and the uterine wall, there could not be any visible bleeding. Pain might start unexpectedly and ranges from light cramps to painful contractions.

It is recommended to seek medical attention if the patient experience any sign and symptoms of placental abruption during the pregnancy.


Placental abruption occurs from unknown causes. It could be caused by the sudden loss of the fluid that surrounds and cushions the developing baby in the uterus, or trauma, or injury to the abdomen, such as that caused by a fall or an automobile accident.

Risk factors

The following factors can raise the risk of placental abruption:

  • Uterine trauma or injury
  • History of placental abruption
  • Chronic high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure), preeclampsia, HELLP syndrome, eclampsia, gestational diabetes
  • Smoking or drug use (such as cocaine) during pregnancy
  • Premature rupture of membranes (leaking of amniotic fluid before full term)
  • Infection in the uterus while pregnant (chorioamnionitis)
  • Being older, especially older than 40
  • Sudden loss of amniotic fluid
  • Short umbilical cord