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Definition

What is placenta accreta?

Placenta accreta is a serious pregnancy condition that occurs when blood vessels and other parts of the placenta grow too deeply into the uterine wall.

Typically, the placenta detaches from the uterine wall after childbirth. With placenta accreta, part or all of the placenta remains firmly attached. This can cause severe blood loss after delivery.

It’s also possible for the placenta to invade the muscles of the uterus (placenta increta) or grow through the uterine wall (placenta percreta).

Placenta accreta is considered a high-risk pregnancy complication. If placenta accreta is suspected during pregnancy, you’ll likely need an early C-section delivery followed by the surgical removal of your uterus (hysterectomy).

How common is placenta accreta?

Approximately 1 in 2,500 pregnancies experience placenta accreta, increta or percreta. Placenta accreta is the most common accounting for approximately 75% of all cases. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of placenta accreta?

Placenta accreta often causes no signs or symptoms during pregnancy — although vaginal bleeding during the third trimester is possible. Often, placenta accreta is detected during a routine ultrasound.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you have vaginal bleeding during the third trimester.

Causes

What causes placenta accreta?

Placenta accreta is thought to be related to abnormalities in the lining of the uterus, typically due to scarring after a C-section or other uterine surgery. This might allow the placenta to grow too deeply into the uterine wall. Sometimes, however, placenta accreta occurs without a history of uterine surgery.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for placenta accreta?

There are many risk factors for placenta accreta, such as:

  • Previous uterine surgery. If you’ve had a C-section or other uterine surgery, you’re at increased risk of placenta accreta. The risk of placenta accreta increases with the number of uterine surgeries.
  • Placenta position. If your placenta partially or totally covers your cervix (placenta previa) or sits in the lower portion of your uterus, you’re at increased risk of placenta accreta.
  • Maternal age. Placenta accreta is more common in women older than 35.
  • Previous childbirth. The risk of placenta accreta increases each time you give birth.
  • Uterine conditions. The risk of placenta accreta is higher if you have abnormalities or scarring in the tissue that lines your uterus (endometrium). Noncancerous uterine growths that bulge into the uterine cavity (submucosal uterine fibroids) also increase the risk.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is placenta accreta diagnosed?

If you have risk factors for placenta accreta during pregnancy — such as the placenta partially or totally covering the cervix (placenta previa) or a previous uterine surgery — your health care provider will carefully examine the implantation of your baby’s placenta.

Techniques to help diagnose placenta accreta might include:

  • Imaging tests. Through ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), your health care provider can evaluate how the placenta is implanted in your uterine wall.
  • Blood tests. Your health care provider might test a sample of your blood for an otherwise unexplained rise in the amount of alpha-fetoprotein — a protein that’s produced by the baby and can be detected in the mother’s blood. Such a rise has been linked to placenta accreta.

How is placenta accreta treated?

There is nothing a woman can do to prevent placenta accreta, and there is little that can be done for treatment once placenta accreta has been diagnosed. If you have been diagnosed with placenta accreta your healthcare provider will monitor your pregnancy with the intent of scheduling a delivery and using a surgery that may spare the uterus.

It is particularly important to discuss this surgery with your doctor if you desire to have additional children.

Unfortunately, placenta accreta may be severe enough that a hysterectomy may be needed. Again, it is important to discuss surgical options with your healthcare provider.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage placenta accreta?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with placenta accreta:

  • Find out about placenta accreta. Gathering information about your condition might help you feel less anxious. Talk to your health care provider, do some research and connect with other women who’ve had placenta accreta.
  • Prepare for a C-section. If you’re disappointed that you won’t be able to have a vaginal birth, remind yourself that your baby’s health and your health are more important than the method of delivery.
  • Prepare for a hysterectomy. After the hysterectomy, you’ll no longer have periods or be able to get pregnant. This might lead to a deep sense of loss. Ask your health care provider about what to expect during your recovery. If you need help coping with feelings of grief or depression, talk with a mental health provider.
  • Take care of yourself. Set aside time for soothing activities that help you relax, such as reading or listening to music. Relaxation techniques, including meditation, deep breathing or guided imagery, may help ease stress and produce a feeling of calm.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: August 28, 2017 | Last Modified: August 28, 2017

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