Treasure to the mother and threat to the fetus: case report of warfarin-associated fetal intracranial hemorrhage and review of literature

J Int Med Res. 2023 Aug;51(8):3000605231192773. doi: 10.1177/03000605231192773.


In patients with mechanical heart valve protheses, warfarin is usually recommended because of its exceptional anticoagulation effects. However, warfarin can cross the placenta, leading to teratogenicity and even catastrophic hemorrhage in the fetus. The present article describes a case of warfarin-associated fetal intracranial hemorrhage. The patient was a woman in her early 30s. At the age of 11 years, she had undergone aortic valve replacement (mechanical) for aortic regurgitation. Since then, she had been taking oral warfarin. During her pregnancy, her prothrombin time-international normalized ratio was maintained between 1.5 and 2.5. At 35 weeks of gestation, fetal ultrasonography revealed an intracranial mass in the left hemisphere. An emergency cesarean section was performed because fetal intracranial hemorrhage was suspected. A male infant was delivered with a 1- 5-, and 10-minute Apgar score of 1, 5, and 7, respectively. Cranial computed tomography revealed multiple hemorrhage sites with newly emerged bleeding spots. In patients with mechanical heart valve protheses, obstetricians face the dilemma of individual-patient differences and the difficulty of intensive monitoring of the coagulation parameters in the fetus. Tailor-made anticoagulation therapy and a more intensive ultrasonic monitoring strategy, even that involving regular magnetic resonance imaging, are necessary in these patients.

Keywords: Pregnancy; case report; individualized anticoagulation therapy; intracranial hemorrhage; mechanical heart valve prosthesis; warfarin.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Anticoagulants / adverse effects
  • Cesarean Section
  • Child
  • Female
  • Fetus
  • Heart Valve Prosthesis* / adverse effects
  • Hemorrhage
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Hemorrhages / chemically induced
  • Intracranial Hemorrhages / diagnostic imaging
  • Male
  • Mothers
  • Pregnancy
  • Warfarin* / adverse effects


  • Warfarin
  • Anticoagulants