Pelvic inflammatory disease in pregnancy: a systematic review focusing on perinatal outcomes

Am J Obstet Gynecol MFM. 2022 Jul;4(4):100643. doi: 10.1016/j.ajogmf.2022.100643. Epub 2022 Apr 8.


Background: Pelvic inflammatory disease during pregnancy is a rare and an understudied occurrence with potential negative outcomes.

Objective: This study aimed to evaluate the outcomes of pregnant women with pelvic inflammatory disease with or without pelvic abscesses.

Data sources: We performed a systematic review of the literature using Ovid MEDLINE, Scopus, CINAHL, and PubMed (including Cochrane) with no time limitations.

Study eligibility criteria: Relevant studies on pelvic inflammatory disease during pregnancy were identified and considered eligible if they described at least 1 case of pelvic inflammatory disease after conception, defined as infection in one or more of the following: uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries; based on clinical findings, physical examination, and imaging with or without pelvic abscesses present. Only studies on pelvic inflammatory disease with or without tubo-ovarian abscesses during pregnancy that evaluated perinatal outcomes were included. Data on the risk factors, delivery methods, and maternal, fetal, and neonatal outcomes were collected.

Methods: Reviewers screened all relevant titles using the inclusion/exclusion criteria and selected relevant articles for appraisal. A total of 49 cases with reported pelvic inflammatory disease, pelvic abscesses, or both were included.

Results: After exclusion of articles that did not meet the inclusion criteria, 34 manuscripts describing the occurrence of pelvic inflammatory disease in 49 pregnancies were analyzed, focusing primarily on cases reported after 1971. The mean age of patients was 25±6.3 years, the mean gestational age at diagnosis was 19.0±10.3 weeks, and 67.6% of patients were multiparous. Of all included patients, 27 (62.8%) underwent exploratory laparotomies, 14 (32.6%) underwent unilateral salpingo-oophorectomies, and 11 (25.6%) underwent appendectomies. Of all the deliveries, 13 (50%) pregnancies were full term, 14 (53.8%) were cesarean deliveries, 10 (38.5%) were spontaneous vaginal deliveries, and 2 (7.7%) were cesarean hysterectomies. There were 26 (60.5%) cases of viable births (mean gestational age at delivery, 33.8±5.1 weeks) and 17 (39.5%) cases of nonviable births. Sepsis was a complication in 3 (7.0%) cases and caused 3 neonatal deaths.

Conclusion: Although rare, pelvic inflammatory disease can have severe health consequences. Risk factors for pelvic inflammatory disease development include maternal pelvic structural anomalies, a history of sexually transmitted infections, recent pelvic surgery, and in vitro fertilization or oocyte retrieval. Pelvic inflammatory disease can coincide with pregnancy and can occur in the second trimester. Making a prompt diagnosis can help to improve the outcomes; therefore, if a high enough suspicion exists, treatment should not be delayed.

Keywords: Maternal infection; neonatal outcomes; pelvic inflammatory disease; peritonitis; pregnancy; tubo-ovarian abscess.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Abscess
  • Cesarean Section
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Parturition
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease* / diagnosis
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease* / epidemiology
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease* / therapy
  • Pregnancy