Damage-Control Surgery for Obstetric Hemorrhage

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Damage-control surgery (abdominopelvic packing followed by a period of medical stabilization in the intensive care unit) is a life-saving intervention usually reserved for critically injured patients who may not survive an attempt to achieve hemostasis and complete repair of the damage in the operating room. Most obstetricians have little or no experience in this area, although the use of damage-control surgery in selected cases may be life-saving. This approach should be considered when arterial bleeding has been controlled and persistent bleeding is deemed to be secondary to coagulopathy that is refractory to blood product replacement, particularly in the presence of hypothermia, acidosis, and vasopressor requirement. A prototypical (albeit hypothetical) case is described here in which damage-control surgery is indicated.

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