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Obstet Gynecol. 2003 Apr;101(4):767-72.

The "tamponade test" in the management of massive postpartum hemorrhage.

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St George's Hospital Medical School, London, United Kingdom.



Massive postpartum hemorrhage is a major cause of pregnancy-related death in the United States. To date there is no diagnostic test to identify those women with intractable hemorrhage who will need surgery. Delay in making this decision can be catastrophic. The successful use of the inflated stomach balloon of a Sengstaken-Blakemore tube as a therapy for obstetric hemorrhage has been reported previously. Using the insertion of the Sengstaken-Blakemore tube as a diagnostic test has not been reported. An inflated Sengstaken-Blakemore balloon catheter creates tamponade and identifies those who will or will not need surgery. This is the basis for the "tamponade test." We evaluated the tamponade test in the management of women with massive postpartum hemorrhage.


In this prospective study, 16 cases of intractable postpartum hemorrhage were managed by the tamponade test. All 16 women had persistent bleeding despite the maximal and optimal application of conservative measures. Their condition deteriorated, such that surgical intervention was considered mandatory. It was at this predefined end point that the tamponade test was applied.


Fourteen (87.5%) had a positive tamponade test result and therefore did not require surgery. Two (12.5%) had a negative test result and underwent laparotomy.


This diagnostic test rapidly identifies those patients with postpartum hemorrhage who will require a laparotomy. Even when results are positive, life-threatening hemorrhage is arrested and time is also allowed to correct any consumptive coagulopathy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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