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Chorioamnionitis of Placenta

Last updated Aug. 13, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

Chorioamnionitis of Placenta is a bacterial infection of the placenta and its membranes (the chorion and amnion).

What are the other Names for this Condition? (Also known as/Synonyms)

  • IAI of Placenta
  • Intra-Amniotic Infection (IAI) of Placenta
  • Placental Chorioamnionitis

What is Chorioamnionitis of Placenta? (Definition/Background Information)

  • Chorioamnionitis of Placenta is a bacterial infection of the placenta and its membranes (the chorion and amnion)
  • The placenta is an organ that connects the developing fetus to the uterine wall. It is a disc shaped reddish brown structure that connects the fetus to the mother through the umbilical cord. The umbilical cord contains two umbilical arteries and one umbilical vein
  • The normal function of placenta is to supply nutrients and oxygen to the fetus from the mother’s blood and remove wastes from the fetal body
  • The chorion and amnion are placental membranes. The chorion is the membrane that is present between the growing fetus and the mother. The amnion closely covers and protects the developing embryo
  • Chorioamnionitis of Placenta may present with fever, increased heart rate, and tenderness in the uterus. This infection may cause heavy bleeding during labor, preterm delivery, or necessitate a C-section delivery
  • With proper and early treatment using antibiotics, the prognosis of Chorioamnionitis of Placenta is generally good

Who gets Chorioamnionitis of Placenta? (Age and Sex Distribution)

  • Younger pregnant women are more at risk of Chorioamnionitis of Placenta
  • Women of underdeveloped countries are more susceptible to this condition, as compared to women living in the developed countries

What are the Risk Factors for Chorioamnionitis of Placenta? (Predisposing Factors)

Risk factors associated with Chorioamnionitis of Placenta include:

  • Younger women (less than 21 years of age)
  • Premature rupture of membranes (water leak)
  • Women belonging to lower socioeconomic status with poor access to proper healthcare
  • Long labor
  • Repeated vaginal examination

It is important to note that having a risk factor does not mean that one will get the condition. A risk factor increases ones chances of getting a condition compared to an individual without the risk factors. Some risk factors are more important than others.
Also, not having a risk factor does not mean that an individual will not get the condition. It is always important to discuss the effect of risk factors with your healthcare provider.

What are the Causes of Chorioamnionitis of Placenta? (Etiology)

Chorioamnionitis of Placenta is an infectious condition that is caused by the following bacterium:

  • Escherichia coli
  • Group B streptococci

Some anaerobic bacteria can also cause the condition.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Chorioamnionitis of Placenta?

The signs and symptoms associated with Chorioamnionitis of Placenta (in the mother) include:

  • Fever and chills
  • Increased heart rate
  • Foul-smelling amniotic fluid (amniotic fluid is the fluid that surrounds and protects the baby)
  • Uterine tenderness (pain while pressing the uterus)

How is Chorioamnionitis of Placenta Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of Chorioamnionitis of Placenta may include:

  • Complete physical examination of the mother
  • Complete blood count, which may show an increased number of white blood cells
  • Examination of placental membranes under microscope: It may show the presence of white blood cells infiltrating the placental membranes with abscess formation

Many clinical conditions may have similar signs and symptoms. Your healthcare provider may perform additional tests to rule out other clinical conditions to arrive at a definitive diagnosis.

What are the possible Complications of Chorioamnionitis of Placenta?

Complications due to Chorioamnionitis of Placenta include:

Maternal complications:

  • Increased chances of caesarean delivery
  • Heavy bleeding during labor
  • Bacteremia: Systemic infection of the mother with spread of bacteria in blood

Fetal complications:

  • Premature delivery of the baby
  • Pneumonia (lung infection)
  • Meningitis (infection of the coverings of the brain and spinal cord)

How is Chorioamnionitis of Placenta Treated?

  • Antibiotic therapy is the mainstay of treatment for Chorioamnionitis of Placenta
  • Penicillin in combination with gentamicin are generally administered to treat this condition

How can Chorioamnionitis of Placenta be Prevented?

Preventive measures for Chorioamnionitis of Placenta include:

  • All women who test positive for group B streptococcal infection should be provided antibiotic treatment to eradicate the infection
  • Repeated and unnecessary vaginal examinations should be avoided during labor
  • If membrane rupture occurs early during labor, the patient should be carefully observed for developing signs of infection (if any)

What is the Prognosis of Chorioamnionitis of Placenta? (Outcomes/Resolutions)

With early and appropriate treatment, the prognosis of Chorioamnionitis of Placenta is generally very good.

Additional and Relevant Useful Information for Chorioamnionitis of Placenta:

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Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Aug. 10, 2015
Last updated: Aug. 13, 2018