Anatomy and Pathology of the Placental Membranes

  • Kurt Benirschke
  • Peter Kaufmann


The term membranes is usually taken to be synonymous with the amnion and the chorion laeve. The membranes represent the “bag of waters” that encloses the fetus. They are distinct from the chorion frondosum, which is the actual placental tissue and forms a specialized, thickened part of the membranes. The membranes normally insert at the edge of the placenta and contain the amnionic fluid and the fetus. Membranes rupture during delivery owing to stretching or the mechanical force of the accoucheur. Several distinct layers are present in the membranes, and the structure and function of the membranes have received considerable attention primarily because of an interest in the turnover of the water they contain. Enzymatic activity of the membranes during the initiation of labor has been of additional interest. Most recently, the composition of the various extracellular connective tissue components has come under scrutiny. Comprehensive surveys of many of these aspects, particularly the structural nature of the membranes, are found in Bourne’s (1962) and Schmidt’s (1992) books on the topic. Amnionic fluid mechanics are reviewed comprehensively by Barnes and Seeds (1972).


Fetal Membrane Amniotic Fluid Embolism Human Amnion Meconium Aspiration Syndrome Placental Membrane 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kurt Benirschke
    • 1
  • Peter Kaufmann
    • 2
  1. 1.University Medical CenterUniversity of California, San DiegoSan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.Institut für Anatomie der Medizinischen FakultätRheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule AachenAachenGermany

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