Examination of the Placenta

  • Kurt Benirschke
  • Peter Kaufmann


Most placentas are normal, as are most babies. Therefore, an examination of all placentas may not be warranted although this has been repeatedly advocated. Practical guidelines, including indications for the examination, have been published by the College of American Pathologists (Langston et al., 1997). This reference describes in tabular form the major abnormalities and their association with clinical features. Booth et al. (1997) inquired what reasons constituted the submission of a placenta for examination and found, regrettably, that it was cesarean section delivery. This is hardly a good reason, as we show here. A large number of surgical deliveries are repeat sections and have little impact on perinatal problems for which placental examination might be useful. Altshuler and Hyde (1996), on the other hand, found that 92% of placentas for which an examination was requested by the obstetrician or neonatologist had relevant pathology. Salafia and Vintzileos (1990) made a strong plea for the study of all placentas by pathologists. We concur with this view, as the sporadic examination does not provide sufficient training for young pathologists and it does not allow the “routine” pathologist to obtain sufficient background knowledge as to what constitutes a truly normal placenta.


Umbilical Cord Placental Tissue Intervillous Space Normal Placenta Single Umbilical Artery 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2000

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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