Atypical presentation of hemorrhagic shock in pregnancy: a case highlighting the developing field of emergency medicine in Israel

BMC Emerg Med. 2019 Nov 21;19(1):70. doi: 10.1186/s12873-019-0272-z.


Background: Occult hemorrhagic shock secondary to uterine rupture represents a true obstetric emergency and can result in significant morbidity and mortality for both the patient and the fetus. Multiparity and prior cesarean sections are known risk factors. Typically, these patients present late in gestation, often secondary to the physiologic stresses on the uterus related to contractions. This pathology is less common earlier in pregnancy and can often be overlooked in the acute setting.

Case presentation: We present the case of a 31-year-old female with three prior gestations, two parities and two prior cesarean sections, resulting in three live births, who presented to the Emergency Department (ED) 22-weeks pregnant with acute onset dyspnea and an episode of syncope. Due to her altered mental status there was concern for occult shock, despite normal vital signs. Large amounts of free fluid in the abdomen were noted on bedside ultrasonography with a high suspicion for uterine pathology. She was resuscitated with blood and taken immediately to the operating room for surgical management where she was found to have had a uterine rupture.

Conclusion: This case highlights a rare presentation of a well-known obstetric emergency, due to the patient's development of uterine rupture early in gestation. Consequently, emergency physicians should consider atraumatic hypovolemic shock, secondary to this obstetric catastrophe, even at a stage that far precedes its expected presentation. In addition, we make note of how this case validated our department's integrated emergency medicine model, the first in the State of Israel.

Keywords: Early uterine rupture; International emergency medicine; Point of care ultrasonography; Resuscitation; Shock in early pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Shock, Hemorrhagic / etiology*
  • Uterine Rupture / diagnosis
  • Uterine Rupture / physiopathology*
  • Uterine Rupture / surgery