A case of antepartum haemorrhage at 18 weeks gestation leading to DIC (2021)

Type of publication:
Journal article

*Barker V.; *Biswas N.; Brett-Miller C.

BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology; Jun 2021; vol. 128 ; p. 77

Objective A rare case of vaginal bleeding before 20 weeks’ gestation with a 1.2 L blood loss leading to
Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation. Follow up of the case at 25 weeks gestation revealed an ongoing pregnancy with resolution of clotting function. Case report A 33 year old patient who had previously had six normal vaginal deliveries attended labour ward at 18 + 6 weeks gestation with pain, a sensation of pressure and a small amount of brown PV loss. She previously had a small bleed at 15 weeks’ gestation when a subchorionic bleed was demonstrated on scan. Thirty minutes after arrival she started to bleed very heavily and within forty minutes had lost more than 1 litre of fresh blood. On examination she had a closed cervix with active ongoing bleeding. A bedside ultrasound scan revealed a viable pregnancy. Tranexamic acid 1 g was given intravenously. Clotting function on admission was markedly deranged; INR 2.4, prothrombin time 23.5, activated partial thromboplastin time 56, fibrinogen < 0.3 and D-Dimer 2157. Disseminated intravascular coagulation was diagnosed. Following discussion with the haematology consultant, she received two units of cryoprecipitate. The bleeding subsequently settled with total loss of 1.2 litres. She had further blood tests which showed normalisation of clotting function within 24 h. Departmental ultrasound scan showed no evidence of bleeding on scan but placenta was noted to extend to the cervix. Follow up at 25 weeks showed an ongoing pregnancy with no further bleeding. Discussion Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation is a rare complication of pregnancy and can be associated with a number of obstetric disorders including placental abruption and praevia, amniotic fluid embolism, intrauterine fetal demise, HELLP syndrome, preeclampsia/eclampsia, septic abortion, intrauterine infection, PPH and acute fatty liver of pregnancy. It can occur at any time in pregnancy but most commonly occurs in the 3rd trimester. DIC can be diagnosed using the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis DIC Diagnostic Criteria. The classic picture is a prolonged prothrombin time and activated partial thromboplastin time, low platelets, low fibrinogen and elevated D-dimer test. Management involves addressing the obstetric cause and supportive therapy. Conclusion DIC occurs secondary to a trigger which stimulates the release of procoagulant substances resulting in activation of the clotting pathway. The hypercoagulable state in pregnancy increases the vulnerability of pregnant women. This is a rare case of rapid onset DIC in the second trimester with an ongoing pregnancy.

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