Placental abruption and hemorrhage-review of imaging appearance

Emerg Radiol. 2019 Feb;26(1):87-97. doi: 10.1007/s10140-018-1638-3. Epub 2018 Aug 29.


Placental and periplacental bleeding are common etiologies for antepartum bleeding. Placental abruption complicates approximately 1% of pregnancies and is associated with increased maternal, fetal, and neonatal morbidity and mortality. This article reviews the normal placental appearance on ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and then discusses the different morphological appearance of placental and periplacental hematomas along with their mimics. Hematomas are classified based on the location as retroplacental, marginal subchorionic, preplacental (subamniotic), or intraplacental. Placenta-related bleeding is a common finding during first trimester ultrasound and its detection can help triage the pregnant females into low- and high-risk groups. This article reviews placenta related bleeding in the setting of trauma. Trauma can complicate pregnancy with potential severe maternal and fetal outcomes. CT is usually performed as part of the trauma workup and it can be challenging for placental evaluation. MRI can characterize the age of the hematomas and can differentiate hematomas from tumors.

Keywords: Placenta; Placental abruption; Retroplacental hematoma; Subchorionic hematoma-placental hematoma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abruptio Placentae / diagnostic imaging*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Pregnancy
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*
  • Uterine Hemorrhage / diagnostic imaging*