Examination of the Placenta

  • Kurt Benirschke
  • Peter Kaufmann

Abstract

Most placentas are normal, as are most neonates. Therefore an examination of all placentas is not warranted even though it has been advocated repeatedly. Salafia and Vintzileos (1991) 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. Another reason is the litigious climate of today (see Chapter 27). It has been shown repeatedly that a placental examination is needed in order to assess the cause of a perinatal death. Most recently this point was demonstrated especially for stillbirths by Las Heras et al. (1994). The most important lesions were found in the cord (18%), with inflammatory lesions second most common. Because placentas differ widely in shape, size, and appearance, the novice must become familiar with this spectrum of placental shapes. To do so, a large number of placentas must be examined routinely. It is therefore prudent in hospitals with large numbers of deliveries to select placentas for examination. To facilitate this practice, storage is required. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, on the other hand, has suggested that routine study of the placenta is not warranted (ACOG, 1991), a decision with which we strongly disagree.

Keywords

Sulfide Styrofoam Paraffin Bilirubin Schiff 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

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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