Donna A. Sanzari Women's Hospital

The first program in the country dedicated to the care of women with placental abnormalities

What Is Placenta Accreta?

Placenta accreta is a rare life-threatening condition in which the placenta grows too deeply into the wall of the uterus and fails to detach normally during childbirth. If not treated properly, the mother can bleed to death during childbirth. Our doctors have superior experience in the care of placenta accreta and other placental problems, including:

  • Placenta previa, where the placenta grows in the lowest part of the uterus and covers all or part of the opening to the cervix.
  • Placental abruption, where the placenta separates from the inner wall of the uterus before the baby is born.

Women with these placental abnormalities deliver their babies via C-section and usually need to have a hysterectomy immediately afterward.

Our Team of Specialists

Each woman’s healthcare team includes all of the doctors, nurses, technicians, and other professionals needed to deliver her baby while saving her life. At Hackensack University Medical Center, your delivery team includes:

  • Two maternal-fetal medicine specialists: doctors with advanced training in the care of complex pregnancies
  • Two anesthesiologists
  • A urologist to insert stents in the ureters as needed to prevent urinary complications and to repair bladder problems that sometimes happen during delivery
  • Vascular surgeons to insert balloons into arteries that can be inflated to reduce blood loss if needed, especially in patients who choose not to have a blood transfusion
  • A perfusionist to run a cell-salvage device, which captures and returns the blood a patient loses during the operation
  • Two operating room scrub technicians
  • A neonatologist (newborn infant physician)
  • Two “circulators” who specialize in blood support
  • Two obstetric nurses
  • Two neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurses

In addition to your OR team, we also collaborate throughout your care with specialists from the departments of Radiology, Intensive Care, Plastic Surgery, and Pathology.

A Proven Track Record of Success

The Center for Abnormal Placentation has achieved exceptional patient outcomes.

  • More than 300 cases
  • 0% maternal mortality rate
  • Lowest rate of blood transfusion in the country
  • Lowest rate of maternal ICU admission in the nation
  • Innovated therapies for select “inoperable” patients

What You Can Expect

If your doctor tells you that you may have a problem with the placenta, call us right away at 551-996-2453. The sooner we see you, the sooner we can begin planning your care so you can have a healthy delivery. We do our best to see you within 24 business hours of your call—on the same day in some cases—and complete your initial consultation, diagnostic testing, and treatment planning on the same day, for your convenience. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Making the diagnosis. First we’ll take a comprehensive medical history and do a complete physical exam. We’ll run a series of tests to examine your placenta and make an accurate diagnosis. These tests include such as ultrasound, ultrafast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and sometimes computerized tomography (CT) scans to see how far the placenta has invaded the uterine wall if placenta accreta is suspected.
  • Planning your care. Once we know what type of placental problem you have, we’ll start to plan your delivery. The development of problem blood vessels in placenta accreta increases as the pregnancy progresses; we therefore typically deliver the baby between 32 and 34 weeks of pregnancy. Your doctor will let you know your expected delivery date.
  • Delivering your baby. We’ll put together an exceptional multidisciplinary surgical team featuring experts to manage any possible complication. If you wish to be awake for your delivery, we can use regional anesthesia during childbirth, switching to general anesthesia to perform your hysterectomy (which is most often done right after childbirth) and any other procedures you need. Your baby will go to the NICU, which we do for all infants in our hospital born under 35 weeks. There, he or she will receive exceptional, personalized care.
  • Your hospital stay. Every case is different, but the typical hospital stay is five to seven days. It may be longer (up to two weeks) if you need bladder reconstruction or have any other complications.

Honoring Bloodless Medicine

We have special expertise caring for Jehovah’s Witnesses and patients with other religious or personal objections to blood transfusion. The staff in Hackensack University Medical Center’s bloodless medicine program collaborate with the Jehovah’s Witness Hospital Liaison Committee to connect patients with our care. We use cell salvage techniques and other approaches to reduce the amount of blood you lose so we can save your life while respecting your preferences.

A Commitment to Research

In addition to providing lifesaving care, our doctors and scientists perform pioneering obstetric research to advance the care of women with placental disorders and other complications of pregnancy. Hackensack University Medical Center is one of only ten hospitals to receive a multimillion grant to fund research as part of the national Human Placenta Project, which aims to develop new tools to study how the placenta develops and functions throughout pregnancy. We have PhD-level scientists who are completely dedicated to basic science and translational research related to obstetrics.

Our Patients Speak

Patients who have been through our program, many of whom came in overwhelmed with fear, have expressed their gratitude for the outstanding care and compassion they have received at our medical center. Many now serve as patient advocates, assisting other women facing these frightening conditions.

Rosanna's story

Rosanna Aguilar and her husband, José-Luis, from Bluffton, South Carolina, were thrilled to learn they were expecting a third child. But elation turned to alarm at a routine ultrasound, when Rosanna learned that something was wrong with the placenta that could lead to severe bleeding.

Learn more

Marleen's story

When 29-year-old Marleen Tawadrous learned she was pregnant with her second child, she and her husband Ehab Tosa who live in Weymouth, Massachusetts were ecstatic. The couple had been planning to give their six-year-old daughter a sibling.

Learn more

Placentation Resources

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