Placenta Accreta

Definition - What does Placenta Accreta mean?

Placenta accreta is a condition that occurs when the placenta attaches itself too deeply in the uterine wall. This is problematic when it comes time for delivery and the placenta is inseparable from the uterine wall, causing severe blood loss. A woman diagnosed with placenta accreta will likely need a Caesarean section (C-section) to deliver the baby and may require a hysterectomy after the delivery.

FertilitySmarts explains Placenta Accreta

Normally during pregnancy, the placenta attaches to the uterine wall. After a baby is delivered, the placenta detaches from the uterine wall and passes through the birth canal.

In placenta accreta, the placenta has attached too deeply in the uterine wall and cannot properly detach during delivery. This can cause severe hemorrhage and can be life-threatening to the woman. Placenta accreta occurs in approximately 1 in 2500 pregnancies.

More severe forms of this condition are placenta increta and placenta percreta. In placenta increta, the placenta further invades the uterine wall and attaches deep inside of it. Placenta percreta is when the placenta grows through the uterine wall and may even attach to another organ, such as the bladder. However, these are not as common as placenta accreta, which accounts for 75% of all cases.

Placenta accreta is likely caused by scarring in the uterine lining from a previous C-section or other uterine surgery. Often there are no symptoms of this high-risk condition prior to delivery. However, some women experience painless bleeding during the third trimester of pregnancy. This condition can be diagnosed by ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) during pregnancy but is often not diagnosed until the time of delivery.

Once discovered, placenta accreta usually requires delivery by C-section and may result in the need for a hysterectomy after delivery. Left untreated, placenta accreta can lead to severe hemorrhage and is a life-threatening condition.

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