Placenta Amniotic

Fetal Membrances and Surface

Layers

The peripheral membranes and fetal placental surface are continuous, and most processes are seen in both. The layer of membrane closest to the fetus is amnion. External is the chorion, which is minimal on the peripheral membranes and more extensive on the disk. The remnant of the yolk sac lies between the amnion and chorion (Figure 4.1). The chorion is continuous with all the villous tissue. There is close proximity of the surface membranes to the maternal blood of the intervillous space, while the peripheral membranes abut the decidua and its blood vessels. This relationship permits maternal cells access to the membranes.

Subchorionic Fibrin and Hemorrhage

Deposits of fibrin from the maternal circulation and thrombosis are common beneath the fetal surface. As pregnancy progresses, the amounts of these materials generally increase (Figure 4.2, Figure 4.3). Subchorionic thrombi eventually become compacted fibrin. The quantity of subchorionic fibrin has been associated with fetal activity. Large nodular subchorionic hematomas, sometimes called "Breus moles," are seen in both liveborns and spontaneous abortions (Figure 4.4). Unusually thick layers of subchorionic hemorrhage can be associated with chronic bleeding and prematurity (Figures 4.5).

Extrachorial Placentation

The membranes normally insert at the peripheral margin of the villous tissue which is usually the outer limit of the vascular plate. Extrachorial placentation exists when villous tissue extends outward beyond the vascular plate. This takes two forms, circummargination and circumvallation (Figure 4.7). In circumvallation there is a redundant, doubled-back membrane fold with enclosed debris and old hemorrhage at the point of membrane insertion (Figure 4.8, Figure 4.9). In circummargination there is a

Circumvallation
Figure 4.1. The yellow 4-mm nodule is the calcified remnant of the yolk sac. It lies free between the amnion and chorion. These are quite commonly found in normal term placentas and are usually located near the edge of the placenta or in the membranes.
Subchorial Thrombosis Placenta

Figure 4.2. Subchorionic fibrin tends to increase with gestational age, although it is quite variable. An immature placenta shows minimal subchorionic fibrin, leading to the deep blue surface coloration commonly seen. The minimal fibrin present appears as tiny nodules under the fetal surface (arrow).

Figure 4.2. Subchorionic fibrin tends to increase with gestational age, although it is quite variable. An immature placenta shows minimal subchorionic fibrin, leading to the deep blue surface coloration commonly seen. The minimal fibrin present appears as tiny nodules under the fetal surface (arrow).

Subchorionic Fibrin

Figure 4.3. Abundant fibrin deposition is often a striking feature of the fetal surface in term placentas. It is composed of larger nodular aggregates of fibrin and old subchorionic hemorrhages which have lost their pigmentation. It may become quite dense, as seen in this term placenta. When possible, histologic sections should not be taken from areas with thick fibrin. Inflammatory processes are often masked in such areas. An increased number of early amniotic sac infections will be diagnosed if thin, more transparent surface areas are sampled.

Figure 4.3. Abundant fibrin deposition is often a striking feature of the fetal surface in term placentas. It is composed of larger nodular aggregates of fibrin and old subchorionic hemorrhages which have lost their pigmentation. It may become quite dense, as seen in this term placenta. When possible, histologic sections should not be taken from areas with thick fibrin. Inflammatory processes are often masked in such areas. An increased number of early amniotic sac infections will be diagnosed if thin, more transparent surface areas are sampled.

Subchorionic Hemorrhage Blood Clots

Figure 4.4. Extensive thick clot and hemorrhage undermine the fetal surface in this case, a change which may be seen as early as midtrimester. The membranes are discolored from hemosiderin pigment, and the amniotic fluid may be thick and brown. Placentas such as this are sometimes called "Breus moles."

Figure 4.4. Extensive thick clot and hemorrhage undermine the fetal surface in this case, a change which may be seen as early as midtrimester. The membranes are discolored from hemosiderin pigment, and the amniotic fluid may be thick and brown. Placentas such as this are sometimes called "Breus moles."

Amniotic Fluid Under Microscope

Figure 4.5. Cross-sections of a placenta with excessive subchorionic hemorrhage show the marked extent of the clot in the subchorionic region with separation of the underlying villous tissue from the fetal surface. Such placentas can be associated with early oligohydramnios, bleeding, elevated a-fetoprotein, and preterm delivery of small, nonmal-formed infants, who sometimes have pulmonary hypoplasia. The etiology of this process is unknown, but there may be a risk of recurrence.

Figure 4.5. Cross-sections of a placenta with excessive subchorionic hemorrhage show the marked extent of the clot in the subchorionic region with separation of the underlying villous tissue from the fetal surface. Such placentas can be associated with early oligohydramnios, bleeding, elevated a-fetoprotein, and preterm delivery of small, nonmal-formed infants, who sometimes have pulmonary hypoplasia. The etiology of this process is unknown, but there may be a risk of recurrence.

Extrachorial Plcenta

Figure 4.6. Extrachorial placentation is displayed schematically with the extra-chorial portion enclosed by dotted lines.The right cross-section shows the redundant membrane fold characteristic of circumvallation. This frequently contains old hemorrhage continuous with the decidua. Such changes are absent in cir-cummargination (left) in which the membranes are flat with a small deposit of fibrin.

Circummarginate-1 1-Circumvallate

Figure 4.6. Extrachorial placentation is displayed schematically with the extra-chorial portion enclosed by dotted lines.The right cross-section shows the redundant membrane fold characteristic of circumvallation. This frequently contains old hemorrhage continuous with the decidua. Such changes are absent in cir-cummargination (left) in which the membranes are flat with a small deposit of fibrin.

Circumvallate Placenta

Figure 4.7. This circumvallate placenta shows a complete circumferential fold of membranes where the vascular plate ends. The region of vascular distribution is small. There is decidua, fibrin and sometimes hemorrhage in the overhanging ridge.These placentas are frequently thicker than usual. Here the process is complete, however it may not involve the entire circumference. Circumvallation is at times associated with preterm bleeding and early delivery.

Figure 4.7. This circumvallate placenta shows a complete circumferential fold of membranes where the vascular plate ends. The region of vascular distribution is small. There is decidua, fibrin and sometimes hemorrhage in the overhanging ridge.These placentas are frequently thicker than usual. Here the process is complete, however it may not involve the entire circumference. Circumvallation is at times associated with preterm bleeding and early delivery.

Circumvallate Placenta

Figure 4.8. Most of the membranes and cord were torn from this circumvallate placenta at delivery. The site of cord insertion is identifiable (arrow) at the "margin" of the vascular distribution, the circumvallate ring. The yellow color of the material composing the ring is due to old blood pigment and necrotic decidua.

Figure 4.8. Most of the membranes and cord were torn from this circumvallate placenta at delivery. The site of cord insertion is identifiable (arrow) at the "margin" of the vascular distribution, the circumvallate ring. The yellow color of the material composing the ring is due to old blood pigment and necrotic decidua.

Circummarginate

Figure 4.9. This extremely thick placenta is circummarginate with a very wide extrachorial extension of villous tissue. The membranes over the surface are flat with only a thin rim of fibrin where they meet the extension of placental tissue. Circummargination often involves only part of the placental circumference. The remaining tissue is either normal (marginal membrane insertion) or circumval-late. The area at 2 o'clock (arrow) suggests circumvallation with a ridge. Cir-cummargination has no pathologic sequelae in the vast majority of cases. However, on observing cases such as this with extensive reduction in the fetal surface vasculature and increased thickness, one must consider possible effects on fetal perfusion.

Figure 4.9. This extremely thick placenta is circummarginate with a very wide extrachorial extension of villous tissue. The membranes over the surface are flat with only a thin rim of fibrin where they meet the extension of placental tissue. Circummargination often involves only part of the placental circumference. The remaining tissue is either normal (marginal membrane insertion) or circumval-late. The area at 2 o'clock (arrow) suggests circumvallation with a ridge. Cir-cummargination has no pathologic sequelae in the vast majority of cases. However, on observing cases such as this with extensive reduction in the fetal surface vasculature and increased thickness, one must consider possible effects on fetal perfusion.

small ridge of fibrin where the membranes contact the extended placental surface (Figure 4.7). Circummargination is not believed to lead to clinical problems, but prematurity and chronic bleeding are associated with circumvallation. The origin of extrachorial placentation is unclear. Suggestions include abnormal implantation, secondary growth lines, marginal separation, and loss of amniotic fluid pressure.

Amnion Nodosum/Squamous Metaplasia

Small nodules on the amniotic surface are either amnion nodosum or squamous metaplasia. These are important to distinguish. Squamous metaplasia is a normal variant (Figure 4.10), while amnion nodosum is strongly associated with longstanding oligohydramnios, a setting in which pulmonary hypoplasia commonly develops (Figure 4.11 to Figure 4.13).

Extrachorial Placenta
Figure 4.10. Squamous metaplasia is an incidental change in the amnion. The normally cuboidal epithelium becomes nonkeratinizing squamous type. This change is most commonly seen near the cord insertion where it appears as small, dull, white plaques which are not readily removed with scraping.
Amnion Cell Metaplasia

Figure 4.11. Amnion nodosum is a pathologic finding, consisting of yellow-white nodules of hair and squames pressed onto the fetal surface. These nodules are not attached and can be easily removed. They may be found over the placental surface and membranes. Amnion nodosum occurs in the setting of severe oligo-hydramnios, and is a marker for its prior existence.

Figure 4.11. Amnion nodosum is a pathologic finding, consisting of yellow-white nodules of hair and squames pressed onto the fetal surface. These nodules are not attached and can be easily removed. They may be found over the placental surface and membranes. Amnion nodosum occurs in the setting of severe oligo-hydramnios, and is a marker for its prior existence.

Circummarginate Placenta
Figure 4.12. Another appearance of amnion nodosum is shown in this placenta which has a finely granular appearance over much of its surface. This is often much harder to recognize. The severity of amnion nodosum tends to be greater later in gestation, but is quite variable.
Amnion Nodosum
Figure 4.13. Histology of amnion nodosum compared to squamous metaplasia. (A) In amnion nodosum nodules of hair, squames, and amorphous material are compressed on the surface, leading to destruction of the underlying amniotic epithelium.

Figure 4.13. (B) Squamous metaplasia shows a change in the cuboidal amniotic epithelium to a keratinizing squamous type.

Figure 4.13. (B) Squamous metaplasia shows a change in the cuboidal amniotic epithelium to a keratinizing squamous type.

Amnion Histology

Amniotic Rupture

Occasionally the amnion ruptures before delivery. The resulting bands of amnion can entrap and disrupt fetal tissues leading to defects including amputations, clefts, and constrictions (Figure 4.14). They may encircle the umbilical cord and cause fetal death. The denuded chorionic plate may be adherent to the fetus (Figure 4.15). This process has a negligible risk of recurrence and placental examination can often be diagnostic.

Figure 4.14. A

strand of tissue encircles the cord and some digits in this stillborn midtrimester fetus. This is attached to the placental surface and is an amniotic band. Bands can be quite delicate and require careful examination to distinguish them from artifact, particularly in fragmented specimens.

Amniotic Band Umbilical CordChorion Amnion Amniotic Sac

Figure 4.15. After amnion rupture, chorion comprises the placental surface covering and may adhere to the fetus leading to defects. Anencephaly in this fetus was of this etiology and has a different recurrence risk than more typical anencephaly. Squames may become adherent to the surface chorion, similar to amnion nodosum.

Pregnancies in which the fetus develops outside the membranes, extramembranous gestations, also show characteristic placental changes (Figure 4.16). Oligohydramnios occurs with these lesions as the exposed chorion leads to altered amniotic fluid dynamics.

Artificial Rupture Membranes Pregnancy

Figure 4.16. This placenta is from an extramembranous pregnancy. The membranes ruptured before delivery and the amniotic sac contracted, extruding the fetus into the chorionic. Note the circular area of shiny amnion which is the opening of the collapsed and contracted amniotic cavity. There is yellow-brown discoloration from old hemorrhage. Squames were embedded in the surface of the chorionic sac containing the fetus.

Figure 4.16. This placenta is from an extramembranous pregnancy. The membranes ruptured before delivery and the amniotic sac contracted, extruding the fetus into the chorionic. Note the circular area of shiny amnion which is the opening of the collapsed and contracted amniotic cavity. There is yellow-brown discoloration from old hemorrhage. Squames were embedded in the surface of the chorionic sac containing the fetus.

Cysts

Cysts are frequently found on the surface of the term placenta (Figure 4.17). While most are only a few centimeters in diameter, they are occasionally much larger and may show hemorrhage (Figure 4.18). Cysts are generally seen in placentas with abundant fibrin deposition. Intermediate-type trophoblast ("X" cells) proliferates in fibrinous areas and

Figure 4.17. This placenta shows abundant subchorionic fibrin, a setting in which surface or subchorionic cysts commonly develop. They lie within the chorion, below the amnion. The cysts are left intact where the amnion has been reflected. Hemorrhage may occur within these, as shown in the red-brown color of the cyst by the cord insertion.

Subchorionic Hematoma Gross

Figure 4.18. This placenta shows a mild degree of surface membrane opacity. While this often indicates ascending infection, membrane edema extended storage, or remote meconium pigmentation may give a similar appearance. It is often difficult to be sure of the etiology on gross.

becomes cystic. Cysts do not appear to have any intrinsic significance to the pregnancy. Similar lesions are seen within placental septae (Figure 5.35).

Infection

Color and translucency of the membranes are quite variable, depending on pigmentation, edema, cellular content, and amount of attached decidua (Figure 4.19). One of the most frequent causes of surface opacity is ascending infection. This is the most common type of placental infection and is due to contamination of the amniotic fluid by organisms from the vaginal tract. The reactive process involves the surface and peripheral membranes. Infiltrates of inflammatory cells, predominantly neu-trophils, lead to the opacified appearance (Figure 4.20, Figure 4.21). Frequently this process is clinically unsuspected. The usual agents are clamydia, mycoplasma, and bacteria of low virulence, although Candida (Figure 4.22) and herpes simplex also infect in this manner. The vast majority (>95%) of infants with chorioamnionitis do not become septic. However, neonatal sepsis occurring in the first few days of life will be associated with placental changes of an ascending infection. Group B streptococcus is an exception, and may show no inflammation. There are strong indications chorioamnionitis initiates a substantial portion of premature labor and premature rupture of the membranes.

Rupture Membranes

Figure 4.19. There is marked opacity of the fetal surface in this severely infected immature placenta. The slight yellow-green coloration is due to myeloperoxidase from the numerous neutrophils. Such placentas can be foul smelling, particularly in anaerobic infections.

Prom Premature Rupture Membranes

Figure 4.20. The surface of another severely infected immature placenta is extremely opaque and green. The surface vascular pattern is difficult to identify, due to the large number of neutrophils from maternal response and fetal vas-culitis associated with the ascending infection. The lack of vascular markings can be helpful in distinguishing inflamed placentas from ones with abundant fibrin.

Figure 4.20. The surface of another severely infected immature placenta is extremely opaque and green. The surface vascular pattern is difficult to identify, due to the large number of neutrophils from maternal response and fetal vas-culitis associated with the ascending infection. The lack of vascular markings can be helpful in distinguishing inflamed placentas from ones with abundant fibrin.

Arterial Wounds With Fibrin
Figure 4.21. This chorioamnionitis was due to candida infection. Note the microabscesses on the surface of the cord (arrow), which should be specifically looked for in cases with grossly identifiable chorioamnionitis.
Chorioamnionitis Infection
Figure 4.22. Histology of chorioamnionitis reveals neutrophils from the maternal intervillous space (ivs) extending into the chorion (C) and amnion (A).

Meconium

Meconium in the amniotic fluid commonly causes green discolored membranes particularly in late gestation. An exposed placenta can have several gross appearances (Figure 4.23 to Figure 4.25). The entire time course of histologic meconium change is not clearly established. In vitro studies suggest meconium rapidly reaches macrophages in the amnion (one hour) (Figure 4.26) and is in the chorion within three hours. Whether this corresponds to the time course in vivo is unknown, but alterations occur within hours, not days. The passage of meconium has long been taken as a sign of fetal stress. Current thinking regarding the significance of meconium in the amniotic fluid is less defined. Some, but not all, infants in distress pass meconium, and many infants with meco-nium have not had hypoxic events. Many term placentas may show a

Figure 4.23. Fetal passage of meconium leads to green coloration of the placenta. This is recent meconium, which is in the amnion but does not stain the chorion as revealed by reflection of the amnion. Experimental studies suggest amniotic staining occurs within one hour and chorionic staining in approximately three hours. Meconium has a variety of appearances. It may be thick or thin and color ranges from yellow to dark green.

Chorion Sac
Figure 4.24. This meconium-stained placenta shows yellow-green coloration of the amnion and chorion, suggesting a longer duration of passage. There is an amniotic web (arrow) and the adjacent amnion is retracted, revealing the stained chorion (c).
Plazenta Amnion ChorionAmniotic Web Meconium Placental Membrane Histology

Figure 4.25. This is a near term placenta is from an intrauterine fetal demise and shows severe, longstanding meconium exposure. The cause of death here was the tight cord knot (arrow). There is cord congestion on the placental side. On microscopy, inflammation will often accompany meconium.

Amniotic Web Histology
Figure 4.26. Histology of membranes stained with meconium reveals fresh, free meconium containing squames and hair (arrow) as well as vacuolated pigmented macrophages in the amniotic connective tissue (arrowhead). The pigment does not stain for iron.

vaguely green color with a few pigmented macrophages in the membranes. Subsequent to affecting the membranes, meconium discolors the umbilical cord. All green appearing placentas do not have meconium pigment. Extensive old hemorrhage or severe ascending infection can lead to similar coloration (Figure 4.19 to Figure 4.21). These are important considerations in preterm pregnancies when passage of meconium is less likely.

Retromembranous Hemorrhage

Red-brown thickenings and yellow areas mark old hemorrhages behind the membranes (Figure 4.27, Figure 4.28). These are quite common, particularly in multiple gestations, and result from confined regions of hemorrhage in areas of decidual necrosis. Problems related to these are rare. Other thickenings in the membranes may represent compressed fetuses (Figure 4.29, Figure 4.30) and rarely retained IUD's (Figure 4.31).

Iud Embedded
Figure 4.27. This very immature placenta shows marked discoloration and opacity of the fetal surface. This is most likely to be from old bleeding and ascending infection which are common together in extremely premature deliveries.
Subchorionic Hemorrhage Passing Tissue
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Responses

  • lisa
    Can you pass a subchotionic bleed?
    6 years ago
  • riku
    Is the placenta outside the amniotic sac?
    6 years ago
  • Dieter
    Which of the following is not a characteristic of the amniotic sac?
    6 years ago
  • peter king
    What is the difference between placenta and amniotic fluid?
    6 years ago
  • taylor fraser
    Why would a blood clot be brown?
    6 years ago
  • phillipp
    What is subchorionic hemorrhage?
    6 years ago
  • Mezan
    What does it mean to have greenish discolored placenta?
    6 years ago
  • berengario fanucci
    Where is dividing membrane on placenta?
    6 years ago
  • LALIA
    What is the difference between a blood clot and fetal tissues?
    6 years ago
  • marko kohler
    What causes membranes with pigment deposition consistent with meconium exposure?
    6 years ago
  • PIRKKO
    What causes a dividing membrane to thin?
    6 years ago
  • Pervinca
    Is it normal to have a secondary amniotic sac?
    5 years ago
  • Russell Stewart
    What is membrane rupture in pregnancy?
    5 years ago
  • Peter
    How To Strip Membrane Pregnancy?
    5 years ago
  • kai
    What happens if the amniotic sac is growing outside of the placenta?
    5 years ago
  • pauli
    What concerns should i have with a hemorhage underneath the amniotic sac?
    5 years ago
  • Iona
    Can a subcronic hemmorage turn into an amniotic band?
    5 years ago
  • hagos
    What is extramembranous haemorrhage posteroinferior to the gestational sac?
    3 years ago
  • ivo greece
    How to separate the amniotic sac from the placenta?
    3 years ago
  • LOTTA
    What is haemorrhage and abudant fibrin?
    2 years ago
  • Jenni Rinne
    What is the type of cord setion where by there is a doubling of chorion and amnion?
    2 years ago

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