This retrospective study evaluates the effects of a massive postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) on maternal outcomes in an inner-city London hospital. One hundred and eighty-four cases of a massive primary PPH (>2000 mL) were identified over a seven-year period. A sub-group analysis was performed to assess whether 2000-3000 mL blood loss (134 cases) was associated with specific maternal characteristics or reduced adverse outcomes compared with >3000 mL blood loss (50 cases). Bakri balloon tamponade (BBT) was the most frequent form of surgical management in both groups (21 vs. 46%), followed by compression sutures (16.4 vs. 24%), the 'uterine sandwich' technique (6.7 vs. 14%) and the hysterectomy (0 vs. 4%). There were significant differences between these groups in placenta praevia as the cause of blood loss (8 vs. 22%, p = .01), length of stay (4.6 vs. 5.9 d, p = .02), use of BBT (p = <.01) and hysterectomy (p = .03). PPH is associated with premature maternal morbidity and mortality. The incidence is increasing in high income countries despite various guidelines, skills training and identification of risk factors. A prediction and assessment of blood loss remain the very cornerstone for a prompt, effective management. Our study shows that the morbidity is clearly related to the amount of blood loss and highlights the existing variable practices for the management of PPH. Impact statement What is already known on this subject? A postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) remains a common cause of maternal morbidity and mortality. Massive PPH (>2000 mL) rates continue to rise in developed countries. The management of PPH includes the medical treatment followed by surgical methods including the Bakri balloon tamponade (BBT), compression sutures or a hysterectomy. What do the results of this study add? This retrospective study evaluates the effects of a massive PPH (blood loss >2000 mL) on maternal outcomes. One hundred and eighty-four cases of a massive PPH were identified over a seven-year period. Sub-group analysis was performed to assess whether a 2000-3000 mL blood loss was associated with specific maternal characteristics and differences in obstetric practice compared with a >3000 mL blood loss. There were significant differences between these groups in placenta praevia, as the cause of blood loss, the length of stay, the use of BBT and the hysterectomy rates. What are the implications of these findings for clinical practice and/or further research? An early identification of the risk factors of a massive PPH is essential to improve maternal outcomes and is an important part of the antenatal, intrapartum and postpartum period. The prediction and assessment of blood loss remain key for a prompt, effective management. The amount of blood loss is related to adverse maternal outcomes and the management techniques applied. BBT has an essential role to play and should be included as part of the core training in the management of a PPH.
Keywords: Bakri balloon tamponade; Postpartum haemorrhage; hysterectomy; placenta praevia; uterine compression sutures.