Diseases of the Placenta

  • Deborah J. Gersell
  • Frederick T. Kraus


The importance of placental examination, unfortunately, is often underestimated, not only by gynecologists and pediatricians but by pathologists as well. The evaluation of a diseased or dead fetus is inadequate without the examination of its most accessible organ, the placenta. Examination of the placenta is complicated by the fact that during intrauterine life, the mother, fetus, umbilical cord, membranes, and placenta are all components of a single system, and disease in any one part may profoundly affect the others. Opportunities for examination of the maternal component are limited because maternal tissue is scant, consisting of only a thin layer of decidua adherent to the fetal membranes or basal plate. Small as it is, this layer is important because it contains the terminal portion of the spiral arteries, which are extremely important in the evaluation of many maternal diseases. The placenta is readily available for study, and its examination may provide significant information relating to intrauterine or perinatal death, intrauterine growth retardation, malformations, infections, and the effects of maternal disease on fetal growth and development. As in any organ, appreciation of pathological changes demands a sound knowledge of normal structure and development. Unlike more static tissues, the placenta undergoes a series of profound morphologic changes during its short life span, making an understanding of the normal somewhat more difficult.


Umbilical Cord Obstet Gynecol Spiral Artery Placenta Accreta Congenital Syphilis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Deborah J. Gersell
  • Frederick T. Kraus

There are no affiliations available

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