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Obstet Gynecol. 2003 Nov;102(5 Pt 1):904-10.

Pelvic embolization for intractable postpartum hemorrhage: long-term follow-up and implications for fertility.

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Department of Radiology, Interventional Radiology Section, Yale University School of Medicine, and Yale-New Haven Hospital, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA.



To determine the long-term sequelae of pelvic embolization for postpartum hemorrhage and to study the effect on fertility and menses.


Twenty-eight consecutive patients who underwent pelvic embolization for postpartum hemorrhage between the years 1977 and 2002 were included in the study. Chart review and telephone interviews were conducted to gather data regarding the type of delivery, causative factors of the bleeding, preembolization treatments, total blood loss, length of time between delivery and embolization, complications, long-term side effects, and subsequent pregnancies.


The average (+/- standard deviation) time to follow-up was 11.7 +/- 6.9 years. The most common causes of hemorrhage were vaginal/cervical laceration, placenta accreta, and placenta previa. In only one case was the embolization unsuccessful, during which there was an accidental perforation of an internal iliac artery resulting in a retroperitoneal hematoma and subsequent total abdominal hysterectomy. All of the interviewed patients that desired to get pregnant after embolization were able to do so. Six patients reported a total of six uncomplicated pregnancies and deliveries in the years after their embolization. Of the remaining patients interviewed, none made subsequent attempts to get pregnant. The most commonly reported long-term side effects were transient buttock numbness (n = 2) and urinary frequency (n = 2). In no patients were the side effects severe enough to seek further medical attention.


Pelvic arterial embolization is a safe and effective procedure and offers patients a fertility-preserving alternative to hysterectomy for treatment of intractable postpartum hemorrhage.

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