Placenta Previa Vs. Abruptio


Placenta previa and placenta abruptio are both conditions associated with pregnancy and childbirth. Both placenta previa and placenta abruptio have the potential to cause severe health risks to both mother and baby, including severe blood loss. When caught in time, they are treatable conditions if diagnosed properly. Placenta previa is a condition that develops early in pregnancy, and placenta abruptio is a condition that develops at the end of pregnancy.

Differences Between Placenta Previa and Placenta Abruptio

According to the Mayo Clinic, placenta previa is a condition that occurs when the placenta is not attached high enough in the uterus. There are three types of placenta previa. When a pregnant women has total placenta previa, the placenta covers her entire cervix. In partial placenta previa, the placenta covers only some of the cervix. In marginal placenta previa, the placenta does not cover any portion of the cervix, but it's located very close to the edge.

Unlike placenta previa cases which develop early in pregnancy, placenta abruptio usually occurs in the last trimester. Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia describes placenta abruptio as being a condition a pregnant woman suffers when the placenta begins to separate from the uterus prematurely. The placenta does not usually separate from the uterine wall until after a baby is delivered from the womb.

Causes of Placenta Previa vs. Causes of Placenta Abruptio

Placenta previa is not caused by environmental factors. Typical causes for placenta previa include uterine scars, a placenta that is larger than average or a uterus that is abnormally shaped. Placenta abruptio can occur for natural reasons such as uterine distension, diabetes or high blood pressure. Unlike placenta previa, placenta abruptio can be caused by environmental factors. Placenta abruptio can be caused by smoking, drinking or drug use during pregnancy.

Symptoms of Placenta Previa and Placenta Abruptio

A major symptom of both placenta previa and placenta abruptio is bleeding. The color of the blood shed due to placenta previa and placenta abruptio is usually bright red. While placenta previa is a painless condition, severe pain in the abdominal area and the lower back is a symptom of placenta abruptio.

How Placenta Previa and Placenta Abruptio are Diagnosed

Placenta previa is easily diagnosed by an ultrasound. Doctors are able to tell the position of the placenta using this diagnostic tool. An ultrasound can also be used to diagnose placenta abruptio, but the condition is not always detected by this test. If placenta abruptio is suspected, a doctor may also perform tests and a pelvic exam to see how well the the mother's blood is clotting.

Treatment for Placenta Previa vs. Treatment for Placenta Abruptio

Treatment for placenta previa depends on the severity of the condition. Bed rest is required when a woman experiences bleeding. Severe bleeding can require a woman to be hospitalized and monitored. A C-section is typically chosen over a vaginal birth in a woman with placenta previa when a baby is full term. If the mother or baby is experiencing severe distress, the baby may have to be delivered earlier than planned.

Treatment for placenta abruptio usually must occur rapidly. If the condition occurs before the baby is fully developed, a mother may be given fluids and blood transfusions. She will then be monitored until the baby can be safely delivered. Sometimes placenta abruptio will threaten the life of a mother and child, and an emergency cesarean section may be done as quickly as possible, even if it means the baby will be born premature. If the uterine bleeding caused by placenta abruptio cannot be stopped, a hysterectomy will be performed.

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