Pelvic arterial embolization for control of obstetric hemorrhage: A five-year experience

E. Hansch, U. Chitkara, J. McAlpine, Y. El-Sayed, M. D. Dake, M. K. Razavi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

231 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Obstetric hemorrhage is a significant cause of maternal morbidity and death. Postpartum hemorrhage that cannot be controlled by local measures has traditionally been managed by bilateral uterine artery or hypogastric artery ligation. These techniques have a high failure rate, often resulting in hysterectomy. In contrast, endovascular embolization techniques have a success rate of >90%. An additional benefit of the latter procedure is that fertility is maintained. We report our experience at Stanford University Medical Center in which this technique was used in 6 cases within the past 5 years. STUDY DESIGN: Six women between the ages of 18 and 41 years underwent placement of arterial catheters for emergency (n = 3) or prophylactic (n = 3) control of postpartum bleeding. Specific diagnoses included cervical pregnancy (n = 1), uterine atony (n = 3), and placenta previa and accreta (n = 2). RESULTS: Control of severe or anticipated postpartum hemorrhage was obtained with transcatheter embolization in 4 patients. A fifth patient had balloon occlusion of the uterine artery performed prophylactically, but embolization was not necessary. In a sixth case, bleeding could not be controlled in time, and hysterectomy was performed. The only complication observed with this technique was postpartum fever in I patient, which was treated with antibiotics and resolved within 7 days. CONCLUSIONS: Uterine artery embolization is a superior first-line alternative to surgery for control of obstetric hemorrhage. Use of transcatheter occlusion balloons before embolization allows timely control of bleeding and permits complete embolization of the uterine arteries and hemostasis. Given the improved ultrasonography techniques, diagnosis of some potential high-risk conditions for postpartum hemorrhage, such as placenta previa or accreta, can be made prenatally. The patient can then be prepared with prophylactic placement of arterial catheters, and rapid occlusion of these vessels can be achieved if necessary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1454-1460
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Issue number6 I
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Obstetric hemorrhage
  • Pelvic arterial embolization
  • Placenta accreta
  • Uterine atony

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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