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Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2000 May;79(5):350-4.

Relationship between histopathological changes in post partum renal biopsies and renal function tests of African women with early onset pre-eclampsia.

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Department of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology, Medical School, University of Natal, Durban, South Africa.



To improve the diagnostic accuracy of concurrent renal disease in hypertension of pregnancy, biopsy evaluation is essential. In addition, establishing underlying renal disease is important for prognosis on future pregnancies. We therefore designed a study to determine the diagnostic yield of postpartum renal biopsy and the nature and frequency of complications associated with this procedure. Also, to determine relationships, if any, between renal function tests and ultrastructural and histopathological findings.


Fifty renal biopsies were performed in the immediate postpartum period in black African women with early onset pre-eclampsia. Each biopsy specimen was placed in a separate container and coded so that sampling was unknown to the electron microscopist. Each biopsy specimen was divided into three parts, and processed and stained for light, fluorescent and transmission electron microscopy using conventional techniques.


Renal tissue biopsies were adequate for diagnostic purposes in all cases. There were no complications in any of the 50 patients studied. Ultrastructural examination confirmed the light microscopy findings. In addition the ultrastructural findings showed intramembranous deposits, foot process fusion and mesangial deposits. In 16 patients with normal renal function tests; the biopsies evaluation from these patients showed ultrastructural changes. In the remaining 34 patients with abnormal renal function tests of varying severity; biopsy evaluation from these patients showed both ultrastructural and histopathological changes.


Renal biopsy procedure is safe, and ultrastructural and histological findings obtained from postpartum renal biopsies are more informative than the routine renal function tests.

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