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Program focuses on the treatment of placental disorders


In today's Inside Stanford Medicine, my colleague Erin Digitale takes a look at a new Lucile Packard Children's Hospital program for pregnant women with placental disorders. Though relatively uncommon, the disorders can be quite serious:

...For a small group of pregnant women who develop placental disorders, the organ is dangerous to ignore. In these rare cases, the placenta grows across the cervix, blocking the uterine opening, or attaches too deeply to the uterine wall. The consequences can include bleeding during pregnancy, restricted fetal growth, preterm labor and life-threatening maternal hemorrhage at delivery.

Program director Deirdre Lyell, MD, says patients with these conditions require "very complex care with multiple providers," including practitioners in maternal-fetal medicine, gynecologic oncology, interventional radiology, vascular surgery, obstetric anesthesia, the blood bank, pediatric radiology and neonatal intensive care. Within the program:

Lyell’s team treats the full range of placental abnormalities, including placenta previa, in which the placenta partly or completely covers the cervix; placenta accreta and placenta increta, in which the placenta grows too deeply into the uterine muscle; and placenta percreta, when the placenta grows all the way through the uterine wall, sometimes invading nearby organs such as the bladder. Center physicians also have ongoing research projects to investigate the causes of abnormal placentation.

Photo by Steve Fisch

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