Strategies to manage major obstetric haemorrhage

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Haemorrhage remains a cause of significant maternal morbidity and mortality. This review summarizes the prevention, management and treatment of obstetric haemorrhage and highlights recent advances and developments.

Recent findings

Postpartum haemorrhage is the most common cause of major obstetric haemorrhage and is usually due to uterine atony. Pharmacological treatment has not altered much in recent years with oxytocin and ergometrine remaining first-line options. Although controversy surrounds its advantages over other uterotonics, the use of misoprostol has been increasing, especially in resource-poor countries. Placenta accreta is becoming more common, a sequelae to the rising caesarean section rate. Interventional radiology may reduce blood loss in these cases. Uterine compression sutures, intrauterine tamponade balloons and cell salvage have all made their debut in the last decade.

Summary

Accurate diagnosis and appropriate management of obstetric haemorrhage can reduce maternal morbidity and mortality. This review outlines the current evidence.

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