Mid-trimester preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM): etiology, diagnosis, classification, international recommendations of treatment options and outcome

J Perinat Med. 2018 Jul 26;46(5):465-488. doi: 10.1515/jpm-2017-0027.


Mid-trimester preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM), defined as rupture of fetal membranes prior to 28 weeks of gestation, complicates approximately 0.4%-0.7% of all pregnancies. This condition is associated with a very high neonatal mortality rate as well as an increased risk of long- and short-term severe neonatal morbidity. The causes of the mid-trimester PPROM are multifactorial. Altered membrane morphology including marked swelling and disruption of the collagen network which is seen with PPROM can be triggered by bacterial products or/and pro-inflammatory cytokines. Activation of matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) have been implicated in the mechanism of PPROM. The propagation of bacteria is an important contributing factor not only in PPROM, but also in adverse neonatal and maternal outcomes after PPROM. Inflammatory mediators likely play a causative role in both disruption of fetal membrane integrity and activation of uterine contraction. The "classic PPROM" with oligo/an-hydramnion is associated with a short latency period and worse neonatal outcome compared to similar gestational aged neonates delivered without antecedent PPROM. The "high PPROM" syndrome is defined as a defect of the chorio-amniotic membranes, which is not located over the internal cervical os. It may be associated with either a normal or reduced amount of amniotic fluid. It may explain why sensitive biochemical tests such as the Amniosure (PAMG-1) or IGFBP-1/alpha fetoprotein test can have a positive result without other signs of overt ROM such as fluid leakage with Valsalva. The membrane defect following fetoscopy also fulfils the criteria for "high PPROM" syndrome. In some cases, the rupture of only one membrane - either the chorionic or amniotic membrane, resulting in "pre-PPROM" could precede "classic PPROM" or "high PPROM". The diagnosis of PPROM is classically established by identification of nitrazine positive, fern positive watery leakage from the cervical canal observed during in specula investigation. Other more recent diagnostic tests include the vaginal swab assay for placental alpha macroglobulin-1 test or AFP and IGFBP1. In some rare cases amniocentesis and infusion of indigo carmine has been used to confirm the diagnosis of PPROM. The management of the PPROM requires balancing the potential neonatal benefits from prolongation of the pregnancy with the risk of intra-amniotic infection and its consequences for the mother and infant. Close monitoring for signs of chorioamnionitis (e.g. body temperature, CTG, CRP, leucocytes, IL-6, procalcitonine, amniotic fluid examinations) is necessary to minimize the risk of neonatal and maternal complications. In addition to delayed delivery, broad spectrum antibiotics of penicillin or cephalosporin group and/or macrolide and corticosteroids have been show to improve neonatal outcome [reducing risk of chorioamnionitis (average risk ratio (RR)=0.66), neonatal infections (RR=0.67) and abnormal ultrasound scan of neonatal brain (RR=0.67)]. The positive effect of continuous amnioinfusion through the subcutaneously implanted perinatal port system with amniotic fluid like hypo-osmotic solution in "classic PPROM" less than 28/0 weeks' gestation shows promise but must be proved in future prospective randomized studies. Systemic antibiotics administration in "pre-PPROM" without infection and hospitalization are also of questionable benefit and needs to be further evaluated in well-designed randomized prospective studies to evaluate if it is associated with any neonatal benefit as well as the relationship to possible adverse effect of antibiotics on to fetal development and neurological outcome.

Keywords: Amnioinfusion; antibiotics; biomarkers; fetal inflammatory response syndrome; high leak; indigo carmine test; intra-amniotic infection; monitoring; periviability; pre-PPROM; pregnancy; prognosis; steroids.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Fetal Membranes, Premature Rupture / classification
  • Fetal Membranes, Premature Rupture / diagnosis
  • Fetal Membranes, Premature Rupture / etiology*
  • Fetal Membranes, Premature Rupture / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Second