Objective: This study was undertaken to explore the spectrum of maternal disease with a triple classification system of HELLP (hemolysis, elevated liver enzyme levels, and low platelet count) syndrome and compare these classes with severe preeclampsia without HELLP syndrome.
Study design: In this retrospective analytic study the pregnancies of 777 patients with class 1, 2, or 3 HELLP syndrome were compared and contrasted with those of 193 women with severe preeclampsia but without HELLP syndrome.
Results: Eclampsia, epigastric pain, nausea and vomiting, significant proteinuria, major maternal morbidity, and stillbirth increased as HELLP syndrome worsened from class 3 to class 1. In contrast, headache and diastolic hypertension were more common among the significantly heavier patients with severe preeclampsia without HELLP syndrome. Approximately half of pregnancies complicated by class 1 HELLP syndrome exhibited significant maternal morbidity, compared with only 11% of those complicated by severe preeclampsia without HELLP syndrome. Although a significant trend was apparent in increasing levels of lactate dehydrogenase, aspartate aminotransferase, and uric acid as HELLP syndrome worsened, there was considerable variation within groups.
Conclusion: Laboratory and clinical indices of disease severity in patients with severe preeclampsia or eclampsia generally were highest with class 1 HELLP syndrome and were lowest when HELLP syndrome was absent. Class 3 HELLP syndrome is considered a clinically significant transitional group.