Disorders of coagulation in pregnancy

Br J Anaesth. 2015 Dec;115 Suppl 2:ii75-88. doi: 10.1093/bja/aev374.


The process of haemostasis is complex and is further complicated in the parturient because of the physiological changes of pregnancy. Understanding these changes and the impact that they have on the safety profile of the anaesthetic options for labour and delivery is crucial to any anaesthetist caring for the parturient. This article analyses current theories on coagulation and reviews the physiological changes to coagulation that occur during pregnancy and the best methods with which to evaluate coagulation. Finally, we examine some of the more common disorders of coagulation that occur during pregnancy, including von Willebrand disease, common factor deficiencies, platelet disorders, the parturient on anticoagulants, and the more rare acute fatty liver of pregnancy, with a focus on their implications for neuraxial anaesthesia.

Keywords: blood coagulation disorders; epidural anaesthesia; pregnancy; spinal anaesthesia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia, Obstetrical / methods*
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use
  • Blood Coagulation Disorders / blood
  • Blood Coagulation Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Blood Coagulation Disorders / drug therapy
  • Blood Coagulation Disorders, Inherited / blood
  • Blood Coagulation Disorders, Inherited / diagnosis
  • Blood Coagulation Disorders, Inherited / drug therapy
  • Blood Coagulation Tests / methods
  • Female
  • Hemostasis
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Hematologic / blood
  • Pregnancy Complications, Hematologic / diagnosis*
  • Pregnancy Complications, Hematologic / drug therapy


  • Anticoagulants