Clinical Characteristics and Outcomes of Obstetric Patients Requiring ICU Admission*

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To review a series of critically ill obstetric patients admitted to our ICU to assess the spectrum of disease, required interventions, and fetal/maternal mortality, and to identify conditions associated with maternal death.


Retrospective cohort.


Medical-surgical ICU in a university-affiliated hospital.


Pregnant/postpartum admissions between January 1, 1998, and September 30, 2005.



Measurements and results:

We studied 161 patients (age, 28 ± 9 years; mean gestational age, 29 ± 9 weeks) [mean ± SD], constituting 10% of 1,571 hospital admissions. APACHE (acute physiology and chronic health evaluation) II score was 14 ± 8, with 24% predicted mortality; sequential organ failure assessment score was 5 ± 3; and therapeutic intervention scoring system at 24 h was 25 ± 9. Forty-one percent of patients required mechanical ventilation (MV). ARDS, shock, and organ dysfunction were present in 19%, 25%, and 48% of patients, respectively. Most patients (63%) were admitted postpartum, and 74% of admissions were of obstetric cause. Hypertensive disease (40%), major hemorrhage (16%), septic abortion (12%), and nonobstetric sepsis (10%) were the principal diagnoses. Maternal mortality was 11%, with multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (44%) and intracranial hemorrhage (39%) as main causes. There were no differences in death rate in patients admitted for obstetric and nonobstetric causes. Fetal mortality was 32%. Only 30% of patients received antenatal care, which was more frequent in survivors (33% vs 6% nonsurvivors, p = 0.014).


Although ARDS, organ failures, shock, and use of MV were extremely frequent in this population, maternal mortality remains within an acceptable range. APACHE II overpredicted mortality in these patients. Septic abortion is still an important modifiable cause of mortality. Efforts should concentrate in increasing antenatal care, which was clearly underprovided in these patients.

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