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Diagnosis of Placental Abscess in Association With Recurrent Maternal Bacteremia in a Twin Pregnancy

Meirowitz, Natalie B. MD1; Fleischer, Adiel MD1; Powers, Michele MD1; Hippolyte, Francine MD1

doi: 10.1097/01.AOG.0000165268.09352.ed
Case Report

BACKGROUND: Placental abscess formation is rarely recognized prenatally. We present a case detected ultrasonographically that developed from a central line infection and caused recurrent maternal bacteremia.

CASE: A young woman with a 21-week twin gestation presented with recurrent fevers. She had received treatment for bacteremia due to Serratia marcescens. The initial source of the infection was a peripherally inserted central catheter line placed in the first trimester for hyperemesis gravidarum. Fevers continued throughout the second course of antibiotics. An abscess seen sonographically in twin A’s placenta was aspirated using a spinal needle, revealing Serratia bacteria. Aspiration was performed at 22 weeks of gestation. Amniotic fluid samples obtained from both sacs were negative for infection. Over 4 weeks, the abscess enlarged and she was delivered. Twin A died of sepsis and twin B had a relatively favorable neonatal course.

CONCLUSION: Prenatal diagnosis of placental abscess presents a difficult management dilemma. Traditional amniotic fluid studies did not predict the poor outcome of the affected fetus.

A placental abscess recognized on prenatal ultrasonography acted as a reservoir for recurrent maternal bacteremia in a 21-week twin pregnancy.

From the 1Long Island Jewish Medical Center, New Hyde Park, New York.

Corresponding author: Natalie B. Meirowitz, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Long Island-Jewish Medical Center, 270-05 76th Avenue, New Hyde Park, NY 11040; e-mail:

© 2006 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists