Definition of "Placental insufficiency"

Last modified: 3 days

Placental insufficiency (aka utero-placental insufficiency) is insufficient blood flow to the placenta during pregnancy. It is also used to designate late decelerations of fetal HR as measured by electronic monitoring, even if there is no other evidence of reduced blood flow to the placenta, normal uterine blood flow rate being 600mL/min.

Patient information

What is placental insufficiency? It sounds like insufficient blood flow to the placenta? What's that?
You're correct, it is. The placenta is an organ that nourishes bub, by connecting bub's umbilical cord, to the womb wall.


Although not necessarily causes, as it can occur in normal healthy placentas and full term healthy births, it includes:

  • Abnormally thin placenta, <1cm
  • Circumvallate placenta
  • Amnion cell metaplasia, amnion nodosum
  • Increased syncytial knots
  • Calcifications
  • Infarcts due to focal or diffuse thickening of blood vessels
  • Villi capillaries occupying about 50% of the villi volume, or when <40% of capillaries are on the villous periphery
  • CTG, showing late decelerations of FHR
  • Fetal movement counting
  • U/S
  • AFI

Patient information

How can you check if there is poor blood flow to the organ that nourishes bub?
CTG can help check bub's heart rate, to see if it decelerates. Decreased movement of bub. An ultrasound. Or AFI, which estimates the amount of amniotic fluid there is.

  • Delivery

Patient information

What can you do about poor blood flow to the organ that nourishes bub?
Delivery is the only option.

  • The various investigations have been promoted as supposedly diagnostic of placental insufficiency, but have been unsuccessful at predicting stillbirth
See also
  • CTG
  • Placental abruption (placenta separates off the uterine wall, causing NO blood flow to the placenta, causing immediate fetal demise)

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Definition of Placental insufficiency | Autoprac

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