Innovative Procedure to Make Placenta Accreta-Complicated Births Safer

TREATMENT involving the use of balloons could potentially save the lives of women who have a pregnancy complication called placenta accreta (PA) – the abnormal implantation of the placenta in the uterus.

The results, based upon a study of 21 patients over a period of 44 months who received the treatment known as prophylactic internal iliac balloon placement, showed that the placement of balloons in the two iliac arteries of the mother’s pelvis prior to a Caesarean section can protect against serious pregnancy complications such as massive obstetric haemorrhage at delivery. This can potentially reduce the need to perform a hysterectomy to control the bleeding.

Dr Patrick Nicholson, trainee interventional radiologist, Cork University Hospital, Cork, Ireland, who lead the study explained: “Following the delivery of the baby, these balloons can be inflated to slow blood flow to the uterus, which allows the obstetrician time to gain control of the haemorrhage.”

The procedure was technically successful in 100% of the cases in this study, and is likely to pave the way for this type of technique being used more widely in the future to prevent complications caused by abnormal placental implantation, the prevalence of which has been increasing steadily over recent years.

“The risks for PA and its variations increase with a woman’s age, previous C-sections and in vitro fertilisation, all of which we expect to see more of in the coming decades,” said Dr Nicholson. “There is clearly a need for more research in this field.”

With the procedure appearing to be completely safe for both mother and baby, the findings are likely to be of great comfort to prospective mothers.

“This research highlights the value of interventional radiology in managing this very serious, high-risk condition to control bleeding and maternal and foetal complications,” concluded Dr Nicholson.

(Image: freeimages.com bjearwicke)

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