Vasa Praevia

Vasa Praevia (VP) is a condition where the blood vessels in the umbilical cord lie low down in the womb in the membranes around baby either over or very close to the opening of the womb into the vagina.

Normally the blood vessels from baby in the umbilical cord enter into the placenta. With VP the blood vessels enter the membranes then go on into the placenta. When the blood vessels lie in the membranes they don’t have any of the protection from the jelly around the cord and so can be broken.

VP occurs overall in about 1 in 2500 pregnancies BUT is as common as 1 in 300 pregnancies that are from IVF.

VP is a very important condition to recognise. If you go into labour or your waters break before you go into labour there is every chance that the blood vessels will break and sadly baby will bleed to death. Research shows that the very worst case scenario the chances of survival when vasa praevia is diagnosed before birth results in a doubling of survival for baby to 97%.

It has been our personal experience that survival due to an elective Caesarean section at 34 to 36 weeks is 100%.

MUMS will aim to check for VP (when possible) at the following scans:-

  • Nuchal scan
  • Anomaly scan
  • Fetal well being (3rd trimester scan)

Below is an image of the placenta we removed at C Section in one of our patients. The placenta is on the left of the image


The above images are from May 2012 and shows the placenta removed again at an elective C Section with the cord entering into the membranes and then separating out to enter into the placenta itself. This lady had been seen at another NHS trust and told not to worry about it and it would make no difference to the pregnancy outcome. The blood vessels were within 2 cms of the neck of the womb and labour if it had started would almost certainly have resulted in these vessels being torn apart or so severely compressed by the head that a far from normal outcome would have occurred. Mum and baby are both perfect even at 36 weeks.

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