Imitators of severe preeclampsia

Obstet Gynecol. 2007 Apr;109(4):956-66. doi: 10.1097/


There are several obstetric, medical, and surgical disorders that share many of the clinical and laboratory findings of patients with severe preeclampsia-hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelets syndrome. Imitators of severe preeclampsia-hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelets syndrome are life-threatening emergencies that can develop during pregnancy or in the postpartum period. These conditions are associated with high maternal mortality, and survivors may face long-term sequelae. Perinatal mortality and morbidity also remain high in many of these conditions. The pathophysiologic abnormalities in many of these disorders include thrombotic microangiopathy, thrombocytopenia, and hemolytic anemia. Some of these disorders include acute fatty liver of pregnancy, thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, hemolytic uremic syndrome, and acute exacerbation of systemic lupus erythematosus. Because of the rarity of these conditions during pregnancy and postpartum, the available literature includes only case reports and case series describing these syndromes. Consequently, there are no systematic reviews or randomized trials on these subjects. Differential diagnosis may be difficult due to the overlap of several clinical and laboratory findings of these syndromes. It is important that the clinician make the accurate diagnosis when possible because the management and complications from these syndromes may be different. For example, severe preeclampsia and acute fatty liver of pregnancy are treated by delivery, whereas it is possible to continue pregnancy in those with thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura-hemolytic uremic syndrome and exacerbation of systemic lupus erythematosus. This review focuses on diagnosis, management, and counseling of women who develop these syndromes based on results of recent studies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antiphospholipid Syndrome / complications
  • Antiphospholipid Syndrome / therapy
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Fatty Liver / diagnosis
  • Female
  • HELLP Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • HELLP Syndrome / therapy
  • Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome / therapy
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / complications
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / therapy
  • Pre-Eclampsia / diagnosis*
  • Pre-Eclampsia / therapy
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Hematologic / diagnosis*
  • Pregnancy Complications, Hematologic / therapy
  • Purpura, Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic / diagnosis
  • Purpura, Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic / therapy