Placenta accreta: causes, risk factors, symptoms

At placenta accreta

Placenta accreta occurs when the placenta, the organ that provides nutrients and other support to a developing fetus , grows too deep into the uterine wall.

Typically, the placenta detaches from the uterine wall after delivery. With placenta accreta, part or all of the placenta remains attached. This can cause severe bleeding after delivery. It is also possible for the placenta to invade the muscles of the uterus (placenta increta) or grow through the uterine wall (placenta percreta).

In severe cases, this condition can be life-threatening for both mother and baby, may require a blood transfusion and even a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus).

Placenta accreta occurs in about 0.2 percent of all pregnancies.

Placenta Increta from Percrete

Placenta increta and placenta percreta are similar to placenta accreta, but more severe.

  • Placenta increta is a condition in which the placenta attaches more tightly to the uterus and becomes embedded in the muscular wall of the organ.
  • Placenta percreta is a condition in which the placenta attaches to and grows throughout the uterus and potentially to nearby organs (such as the bladder).

Obstetricians try to make a specific diagnosis of accreta, increta, or percreta before delivery using ultrasound and MRI, but this is not always possible.

Placenta accreta, causes and risk factors

Placenta accreta is thought to be related to abnormalities in the lining of the uterus, usually due to scarring after a C-section or other uterine surgery.

Risk factors for this condition include:

  • previous delivery by cesarean section
  • abnormal location of the placenta within the uterus, including placenta previa (a condition in which the placenta is low in the uterus, usually above the cervix)
  • mother’s age over 35
  • previous surgery on the uterus, such as removal of the fibroid or treatment of uterine scar tissue
  • in vitro fertilization

Placenta accreta, symptoms

Placenta accreta often causes no signs or symptoms during pregnancy, although vaginal bleeding can occur during the third trimester.

Occasionally, placenta accreta is detected during a routine ultrasound.

Placenta accreta, possible complications

Placenta accreta can cause:

  • heavy vaginal bleeding which, if not managed properly, can be life-threatening for the mother
  • premature birth: placenta accreta may start labor early; in addition, If placenta accreta causes bleeding during pregnancy, it may be necessary to force delivery; the birth

Katherine Johnson, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with clinical expertise in general obstetrics and gynecology, family planning, women’s health, and gynecology.

She is affiliated with the Obstetrics and Gynecology division at an undisclosed healthcare institution and the online platform,

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