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VOLUME 13 , ISSUE 3 ( September, 2009 ) > List of Articles


Amniotic fluid embolism

A. Rudra, S. Chatterjee, S. Sengupta, B. Nandi, J. Mitra

Keywords : Amniotic fluid embolism, coagulopathy, hypoxia

Citation Information : Rudra A, Chatterjee S, Sengupta S, Nandi B, Mitra J. Amniotic fluid embolism. Indian J Crit Care Med 2009; 13 (3):129-135.

DOI: 10.4103/0972-5229.58537

License: CC BY-ND 3.0

Published Online: 01-07-2012

Copyright Statement:  Copyright © 2009; The Author(s).


The disastrous entry of amniotic fluid into the maternal circulation leads to dramatic sequelae of clinical events, characteristically referred to as Amniotic fluid embolism (AFE). The underlying mechanism for AFE is still poorly understood. Unfortunately, this situation has very grave maternal and fetal consequences. AFE can occur during labor, caesarean section, dilatation and evacuation or in the immediate postpartum period. The pathophysiology is believed to be immune mediated which affects the respiratory, cardiovascular, neurological and hematological systems. Undetected and untreated it culminates into fulminant pulmonary edema, intractable convulsions, disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), malignant arrhythmias and cardiac arrest. Definite diagnosis can be confirmed by identification of lanugo, fetal hair and fetal squamous cells (squames) in blood aspirated from the right ventricle. Usually the diagnosis is made clinically and by exclusion of other causes. The cornerstone of management is a multidisciplinary approach with supportive treatment of failing organs systems. Despite improved modalities for diagnosing AFE, and better intensive care support facilities, the mortality is still high.

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