Obstetrics Simplified - Diaa
Polyhydramios and Oligohydramnios
An amount of amniotic fluid more than 2000 ml.
Increased production or decreased consumption of amniotic fluid will
result in polyhydramnios.
- Congenital anomalies:
- Anencephaly: accounts for 30-50% of the cases. This is due to:
- transudation of the cerebro-spinal fluid from the exposed
- absence of swallowing of the liquor.
- foetal polyuria resulting from lack of antidiuretic hormone
or irritation of the exposed centres.
- Atresia of the oesophagus or duodenum enables the foetus to swallow
- Uniovular twins:
- Due to interconnecting vascularity in the placenta, one foetus
obtains more circulation so that its heart and kidneys hypertrophy
leading to increased urine production. So one amniotic sac only
- Increased placental mass:
- Oedema of the placenta due to:
- hydrops foetalis resulting from Rh-incompatibility, severe
anaemia, haemoglobinopathies particularly
and cytomegalovirus infection.
- true knot of the cord causes obstruction of venous return
with placental congestion.
- foetal liver cirrhosis as in syphilis.
- Chorio-angioma and large placenta.
- Diabetes mellitus due to:
- increased osmotic pressure of the liquor amnii due to its high
- foetal polyuria resulting from hyperglycaemia.
- Pregnancy induced hypertension:
- Due to oedema of the placenta.
- Severe generalised oedema:
- Cardiac, hepatic or renal.
- Very rare,
- rapid accumulation of liquor,
- occurs before 20 weeks,
- the commonest cause is uniovular twins but foetal anomalies are
- More common,
- accumulation of liquor is gradual,
- it occurs in late pregnancy,
- the condition may end by preterm labour.
- Abdominal discomfort and pain in acute hydramnios.
- Pressure symptoms: dyspnoea, palpitation, indigestion, haemorrhoids,
oedema and varicosities of the lower limbs.
- General examination:
- may reveal pregnancy-induced hypertension.
- Abdominal examination:
- Inspection: overdistended abdomen.
- The fundal level is higher than gestational age.
- The uterus is tense cystic.
- The foetal parts are felt with difficulty by dipping.
- Fluid thrill can be elicited.
- Malpresentation and nonegagement are common.
- Auscultation: faint FHS.
Ultrasonography can reveal:
- Excessive amount of liquor.
- Multiple pregnancy.
- Congenital anomalies.
- Intrauterine foetal death.
- Causes of oversized pregnant uterus.
- Ovarian cyst with pregnancy.
Termination of pregnancy by high artificial rupture of membranes. This
allows gradual escape of liquor thus shock and separation of the placenta
Shock results from rapid accumulation of blood in the splanchnic area
after sudden drop of intrauterine pressure.
Separation of the placenta occurs due to sudden drop of intrauterine
pressure and shrinkage of the placental site following this. Drew Smythe
catheter is used for rupture of hind water in such conditions.
- During pregnancy:
- Termination of pregnancy by high artificial rupture of membranes
if the foetus is dead or malformed.
- Expectant treatment if the foetus is healthy.
- salt restriction,
- treatment of the underlying cause as diabetes and toxoplasmosis.
- Termination of pregnancy if the condition is not improved
or get worse.
- Repeated amniocentesis may be indicated in premature foetus
with marked pressure symptoms. 1.5-2 litres can be aspirated in
a rate not exceeding 500 ml/hour under sonographic control. However,
the amniotic fluid is rapidly reaccumulating and there is risk of
premature labour, injury to the foetus or umbilical cord vessels.
- During labour:
- Malpresentation, cord presentation and / or cord prolapse should
be detected and the labour is managed according to the condition.
- When the cervix is half dilated Drew Smythe catheter is passed
to rupture the hind water. This will initiate uterine contractions
which can be enhanced by oxytocins.
- Active management of third stage is carried out to guard against
- Care of the newborn:
- Congenital anomalies should be excluded. Oesophageal atresia
can be excluded by passing a soft rubber catheter down to the stomach
of the new born.
- Care of newborns to diabetic mothers (see diabetes).
- Care of newborns to Rh-incompatibility mothers (see Rh-isoimmunization).
- Care of preterm babies (see prematurity).
- During pregnancy:
- Preterm labour.
- Pregnancy-induced hypertension.
- Pressure symptoms.
- During labour:
- Premature rupture of membranes.
- Cord prolapse.
- Abruptio placentae.
- Postpartum haemorrhage.
- Asphyxia due to cord prolapse or placental separation.
Reduction of amniotic fluid volume below 500 ml. Anhydramnios is complete
absence of amniotic fluid which is very rare.
- Placental insufficiency: as in severe pre-eclampsia and post-term
- Urinary tract malformations: as renal agenesis (detected by empty
foetal bladder on serial ultrasonic scanning) and obstruction of the
- Uterus is small for date.
- The foetus is in hyperflexed attitude and breech presentation is
- Ultrasound: shows small (<1x1cm) amniotic fluid locules. It is important
to exclude congenital anomalies, growth retardation and identifies foetal
- X-ray: shows hyperflexion of the foetal spines.
- Pulmonary hypoplasia: as the amniotic fluid is essential for lung
- Abnormal foetal development: due to compression of uterine wall
and adherent foetal parts.
- Abnormal presentations.
- In post-term: Termination of pregnancy is indicated.
- During labour: Observe for foetal distress as it is more common,
if occurs do immediate vaginal or abdominal delivery according to the
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Edited by Aldo Campana,