[Pathophysiological and therapeutic aspects of amniotic fluid embolism (anaphylactoid syndrome of pregnancy): case report with lethal outcome and overview]

M Kretzschmar, D-M Zahm, K Remmler, L Pfeiffer, L Victor, W Schirmeister
Der Anaesthesist 2003, 52 (5): 419-26
A 35-years old gravida IV and para II underwent caesarean section because of fetal distress following induction of labour. During operation the patient developed disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), severe haemorrhage and shock necessitating massive blood transfusion,hysterectomy with pelvic packing, and high-dose catecholamines. Ultimately, recombinant factor VIIa was given to control bleeding. During the first 24 hours after operation, both clinical and laboratory findings showed that the severe DIC was on the course to recovery.However, the patient subsequently developed multiple organ dysfunction syndrome with respiratory and renal failure requiring mechanical ventilation and haemodialysis.All therapeutical efforts could not help that the patient passed away due to an inevitable multiple organ failure on the 12th day after the operation. Given the constellation of diagnostic and clinical findings, the most likely diagnosis was amniotic fluid embolism (AFE), a rare complication of pregnancy. The following differential diagnoses were less likely or excluded in this reported patient: pre-eclampsia/pregnancy-induced hypertension,HELLP syndrome,anaphylaxis,uterine rupture, transfusion reactions,pulmonary embolism. AFE occurs rarely, and because studies in animal models cannot reproduce accurately the pathophysiological and clinical alterations seen in humans, its pathogenesis remains unclear. It has been proposed that the clinical syndrome of AFE occurs when fetal antigens pass the maternal immunological barrier in susceptible mothers. The recognition of fetal antigens by maternal immune system subsequently triggers the release of endogenous mediators that are responsible for dramatic pathophysiological disturbances.Furthermore, the components of amniotic fluid initiate the DIC. These events are more consistent with septic shock and anaphylactic shock than with an embolic process and it was proposed that the term "amniotic fluid embolism" be changed to "anaphylactoid syndrome of pregnancy". At present, no therapy has been found to consistently improve outcomes in women with AFE.Patients who survive the initial insult are at high risk for multiple organ failure. The mortality of AFE remains high.

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