The Particulars: Women with an abnormal placenta sometimes undergo cesarean section to reduce risks of hemorrhage during pregnancy. These women, however, are still at risk for excessive blood loss and may require a hysterectomy to save the life of mother and baby. Uterine balloon occlusion in the internal iliac arteries prior to cesarean section is a novel approach that may stop blood flow to the uterus and possibly prevent hemorrhage and the need for hysterectomy.

Data Breakdown: Uterine artery balloon occlusion was performed prior to cesarean section in 35 women participating in a study. Uterine tamponade—inflation of a balloon to fill the uterus and control bleeding with pressure after delivery—was performed in 24 women. All women and infants undergoing uterine artery balloon occlusion survived, and only 18% ultimately required hysterectomy.

Take Home Pearls: Uterine artery balloon occlusion—performed alone or in combination with uterine tamponade—appears to help save the lives of women with abnormal placentas and their infants. It may also help prevent the need for hysterectomy.