Placenta previa, placenta accreta, and vasa previa are important causes of bleeding in the second half of pregnancy and in labor. Risk factors for placenta previa include prior cesarean delivery, pregnancy termination, intrauterine surgery, smoking, multifetal gestation, increasing parity, and maternal age. The diagnostic modality of choice for placenta previa is transvaginal ultrasonography, and women with a complete placenta previa should be delivered by cesarean. Small studies suggest that, when the placenta to cervical os distance is greater than 2 cm, women may safely have a vaginal delivery. Regional anesthesia for cesarean delivery in women with placenta previa is safe. Delivery should take place at an institution with adequate blood banking facilities. The incidence of placenta accreta is rising, primarily because of the rise in cesarean delivery rates. This condition can be associated with massive blood loss at delivery. Prenatal diagnosis by imaging, followed by planning of peripartum management by a multidisciplinary team, may help reduce morbidity and mortality. Women known to have placenta accreta should be delivered by cesarean, and no attempt should be made to separate the placenta at the time of delivery. The majority of women with significant degrees of placenta accreta will require a hysterectomy. Although successful conservative management has been described, there are currently insufficient data to recommend this approach to management routinely. Vasa previa carries a risk of fetal exsanguination and death when the membranes rupture. The condition can be diagnosed prenatally by ultrasound examination. Good outcomes depend on prenatal diagnosis and cesarean delivery before the membranes rupture.
Prenatal diagnosis and carefully planned delivery optimize outcomes of pregnancies complicated by placenta previa, placenta accreta, and vasa previa.
From the Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, New Brunswick, New Jersey.
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Corresponding author: Yinka Oyelese, MD, Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, 125 Paterson Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1977; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.