Placenta Accreta

Dr. Morice offers low-cost tubal reversal surgery in Morgan City, LA. In addition to tubal reversals, Dr. Morice provides excellent OB-GYN care. Today we will discuss placenta accreta – a rare but serious pregnancy complication that is on the rise in the US.

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What is placenta accreta?

Placenta accreta is a serious condition in which the placenta attaches deeply into the uterine wall. Placenta typically only attaches to the surface of the uterine wall, allowing it to detach easily after childbirth. In cases of placenta accreta, however, the placenta remains partially or fully attached after childbirth, and its removal can lead to hemorrhage and in some cases, death.

There are three levels of placenta accreta, determined by how far the placenta has grown into the uterus.

  • Placenta accreta: The placenta has attached past the uterine wall but not into the uterine muscle. This is the most common type of placenta accreta, affecting 75% of cases.
  • Placenta increta: The placenta has attached through the uterine wall and into the uterine muscle.
  • Placenta percreta: The placenta has grown through the entire uterine wall and muscle and may have attached to another organ.  This is the most rare but most serious form of placenta accreta, affecting 5% of cases.

How is placenta accreta treated?

If you are diagnosed with placenta accreta before delivery, your doctor will work with you to develop a plan for safe delivery. You will most likely need to have a scheduled C-section to deliver the baby. This is often followed by a hysterectomy to remove both the placenta and the uterus as one to prevent hemorrhaging. In some cases, the doctor may be able to surgically remove the placenta but keep the uterus intact. Rarely, the placenta will be left intact to dissolve on its own, but this presents serious risks such as severe bleeding, blood clots, and infection.

How do I know if I have placenta accreta?

Some women with placenta accreta will have vaginal bleeding in the third trimester, but this will not always occur nor does it always indicate placenta accreta. An ultrasound and MRI can help in diagnosis. If you have certain risk factors (explained below), your doctor may suspect and screen for the condition.

What causes placenta accreta?

While there is no known cause of placenta accreta, certain things do increase the risk of developing this condition. The biggest risk factor is having had previous C-sections. The risk is especially high in women who have had more than one C-section.

“If you’ve had two previous C-sections the risk is close to 50 percent and three, it’s 75 percent and four, it’s invariably closer to 100 percent,” says Dr. Kahn, director of the Division of Fetal Medicine and Surgery at Hackensack University Medical Center. This is also the reason that placenta accreta is on the rise. As more women choose to have C-sections even when not medically necessary, their risk for placenta accreta increases for future pregnancies. This is one reason why it’s so important to not have a C-section unless it’s deemed medically necessary.

A history of placenta previa is also a risk factor for placenta accreta. About 5-10% of women with placenta previa also experience placenta accreta.

Does placenta accreta put the baby at risk?

While placenta accreta poses no risk factors to the developing fetus en utero, it may require a scheduled C-section at 35 weeks. Doctors are careful to schedule delivery at couple weeks before full term to prevent labor from occurring on its own. Premature delivery can affect the baby at birth and through development.

Do you need prenatal care? Are you interested in a tubal reversal surgery? Contact Dr. Morice at (985) 702-BABY or to schedule an appointment and learn more about him and the Atchafalaya clinic today!

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