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Thrombosis of Umbilical Cord

Last updated Jan. 27, 2020

Reviewed by: Kashif M. Mohiuddin, MD

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

Thrombosis of Umbilical Cord is a condition in which one of the blood vessels of the umbilical cord gets blocked or obstructed.


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

  • Umbilical Cord Thrombosis

What is Thrombosis of Umbilical Cord? (Definition/Background Information)

  • Thrombosis of Umbilical Cord is a condition in which one of the blood vessels of the umbilical cord gets blocked or obstructed. A thrombosis indicates the clotting of blood in a blood vessel
  • 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 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 umbilical cord contains two umbilical arteries and one umbilical vein, providing a connection between maternal and fetal blood circulation
  • Most commonly, Thrombosis of Umbilical Cord affects the umbilical vein (in 71% of the cases). In some cases, there may be a block in more than one blood vessel of the umbilical cord
  • Torsion of the umbilical cord, abnormal umbilical cord insertion into the placenta, and multiple pregnancies are some of the risks for the condition
  • The signs and symptoms of Thrombosis of Umbilical Cord may include excessive bleeding and decreased blood supply to the fetus
  • Thrombosis of Umbilical Cord requires prompt and emergency treatment for an improved prognosis. However, the fetal morbidity and mortality is significantly increased in this condition. Over two-thirds of the babies are stillborn and the remainder may have significant fetal distress
  • Currently, there are no preventative measures available for Thrombosis of Umbilical Cord

Who gets Thrombosis of Umbilical Cord? (Age and Sex Distribution)

  • Thrombosis of Umbilical Cord may occur in pregnant women of all ages. The incidence is estimated at 1 in 1,300 deliveries
  • Women who are pregnant with both male and female fetuses can be affected
  • There is no racial, ethnic, or geographical predilection observed

What are the Risk Factors for Thrombosis of Umbilical Cord? (Predisposing Factors)

The risk factors for Thrombosis of Umbilical Cord may include:

  • Large baby, multiple pregnancies
  • Umbilical cord torsion
  • Stricture of the umbilical cord
  • Funisitis: Inflammation of the umbilical cord
  • Abnormal insertion of the umbilical cord to the placenta such as velamentous insertion, marginal insertion, or furcate insertion
  • Presence of amniotic bands
  • Fetal conditions such as hemolytic diseases (that result in the breakdown of red blood cells) and fetal hydrops (that cause an accumulation of excessive fluid in fetus)
  • Presence of any medical condition in the pregnant mother that causes easy blood clot formation, such as maternal diabetes

It is important to note that having a risk factor does not mean that one will get the condition. A risk factor increases one's 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 Thrombosis of Umbilical Cord? (Etiology)

  • In a majority of cases, the exact cause of Thrombosis of Umbilical Cord is unknown
  • But, it may be caused by cord compression from a variety of factors such as large fetus, cord stricture, inflammation, etc.
  • It can also occurs due to any underlying condition that results in easy blood clot formations

Thrombosis of Umbilical Cord is not caused by what the expectant mother does or does not do, either prior to or during pregnancy.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Thrombosis of Umbilical Cord?

The signs and symptoms of Thrombosis of Umbilical Cord may include:

  • Excessive hemorrhage/bleeding during childbirth
  • Decreased blood flow to the fetus resulting in fetal distress

How is Thrombosis of Umbilical Cord Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of Thrombosis of Umbilical Cord may involve:

  • Physical examination along with an evaluation of one’s medical history
  • The healthcare provider may check for any signs of fetal distress (non-reassuring fetal heart rate)
  • Abdominal ultrasound may reveal thrombosis of the umbilical cord
  • A careful examination of the placenta by a pathologist after birth of the child, to macroscopically (gross visual exam) and microscopically analyze the placental tissue may help establish a definitive diagnosis

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 Thrombosis of Umbilical Cord?

Complications due to Thrombosis of Umbilical Cord may include:

  • Damage to multiple organs
  • Fetal growth restriction (stunted fetal growth)
  • Fetal distress
  • Cerebral palsy of the fetus, caused by neurologic injury
  • Stillbirths and fetal mortality

How is Thrombosis of Umbilical Cord Treated?

  • Thrombosis of Umbilical Cord can be a medical emergency and the treatment is directed at saving the fetus and managing the associated complications
  • A careful and periodic monitoring of the pregnancy is necessary, since the presence of Umbilical Cord Thrombosis is considered to be a high-risk pregnancy

How can Thrombosis of Umbilical Cord be Prevented?

  • Currently, there are no definitive methods available to prevent Thrombosis of Umbilical Cord
  • A careful and periodic monitoring of the pregnancy is advised and recommended

What is the Prognosis of Thrombosis of Umbilical Cord? (Outcomes/Resolutions)

  • Thrombosis of Umbilical Cord can be a life-threatening condition with a high mortality rate. In 65% of the pregnancies with this condition, it may result in a termination of the pregnancy
  • A delayed treatment or a lack of treatment may result in the death of the baby, or cause adverse health complications for the baby
  • If the two umbilical arteries of the umbilical cord are occluded, then the prognosis is even worse

Additional and Relevant Useful Information for Thrombosis of Umbilical Cord:

The following DoveMed website link is a useful resource for additional information:

https://www.dovemed.com/diseases-conditions/pregnancy-related-disorders/

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?


References and Information Sources used for the Article:


Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:


Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Sept. 23, 2015
Last updated: Jan. 27, 2020