Expectant management of early onset, severe pre-eclampsia: perinatal outcome

Authors

  • D. R. Hall,

    Consultant, Corresponding author
    1. Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Tygerberg Hospital and University of Stellenbosch; MRC Perinatal Mortality Research Unit, Tygerberg, South Africa
      Correspondence: Dr D. R. Hall, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Tygerberg Hospital and University of Stellenbosch, P. O. Box 19081, Tygerberg, 7505 South Africa.
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  • H. J. Odendaal,

    Professor
    1. Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Tygerberg Hospital and University of Stellenbosch; MRC Perinatal Mortality Research Unit, Tygerberg, South Africa
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  • G. F. Kirsten,

    Professor
    1. Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Tygerberg Hospital and University of Stellenbosch; MRC Perinatal Mortality Research Unit, Tygerberg, South Africa
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  • J. Smith,

    Consultant
    1. Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Tygerberg Hospital and University of Stellenbosch; MRC Perinatal Mortality Research Unit, Tygerberg, South Africa
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  • D. Grové

    Research Assistant
    1. Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Tygerberg Hospital and University of Stellenbosch; MRC Perinatal Mortality Research Unit, Tygerberg, South Africa
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Correspondence: Dr D. R. Hall, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Tygerberg Hospital and University of Stellenbosch, P. O. Box 19081, Tygerberg, 7505 South Africa.

Abstract

Objective To evaluate the perinatal outcome of expectant management of early onset, severe pre-eclampsia.

Design Prospective case series extending over a five-year period.

Setting Tertiary referral centre.

Population All women (n= 340) presenting with early onset, severe pre-eclampsia, where both mother and the fetus were otherwise stable.

Methods Frequent clinical and biochemical monitoring of maternal status with careful blood pressure control. Fetal surveillance included six-hourly heart rate monitoring, weekly Doppler and ultrasound evaluation of the fetus every two weeks. All examinations were carried out in a high care obstetric ward.

Main outcome measures Prolongation of gestation, perinatal mortality rate, neonatal survival and major complications.

Results A mean of 11 days were gained by expectant management. The perinatal mortality rate was 24/1000 (≥ 1000 g/7 days) with a neonatal survival rate of 94%. Multivariate analysis showed only gestational age at delivery to be significantly associated with neonatal outcome. Chief contributors to neonatal mortality and morbidity were pulmonary complications and sepsis. Three pregnancies (0.8%) were terminated prior to viability and only two (0.5%) intrauterine deaths occurred, both due to placental abruption. Most women (81.5%) were delivered by caesarean section with fetal distress the most common reason for delivery. Neonatal intensive care was necessary in 40.7% of cases, with these babies staying a median of six days in intensive care.

Conclusion Expectant management of early onset, severe pre-eclampsia and careful neonatal care led to high perinatal and neonatal survival rates. It also allowed the judicious use of neonatal intensive care facilities. Neonatal sepsis remains a cause for concern.

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