Placental findings in specific newborn / fetal or maternal conditions
Fetal death

Author: Mandolin Ziadie, M.D. (see Authors page)

Revised: 16 October 2017, last major update October 2011

Copyright: (c) 2002-2017,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Fetal death[title] placental[title]

Cite this page: Ziadie, M. Fetal death. website. Accessed October 22nd, 2018.
Definition / general
  • Intrauterine fetal demise that may be due to maternal factors (diabetes, preeclampsia, infection), placental abnormalities (vasculopathy, ischemia, infarction) or fetal anomalies (chromosomal disorders, congenital anomalies, Arch Pathol Lab Med 1976;100:367)
  • Chorioamnionitis, deciduitis or villitis may be present, thus warranting culture of the placenta
Gross description
  • Degree of maceration of the fetus and involution of the placenta are helpful indicators for the length of intrauterine demise
Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Microscopic changes are similar to those seen in fetal thrombotic vasculopathy (FTV) but are seen diffusely throughout the placenta
  • Early / recent demise ( > 24 - 48 hours) shows nuclear debris in blood vessels or villous vessels
  • This is followed by vascular septation in larger vessels with sequential changes in smaller vessels and terminal villi then villous fibrosis
  • Other nonspecific changes include calcification / increased mineralization of the trophoblastic basement membrane
Microscopic (histologic) images

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