Are placental lakes of any clinical significance?

Thompson, M. O.; Vines, S. K.; Aquilina, J.; Wathern, N. C. and Harrington, K. (2002). Are placental lakes of any clinical significance? Placenta, 23(8-9) pp. 685–690.



The aim of this study was to determine prospectively whether an association exists between the finding of placental lakes at the 20 week scan and an increased risk of uteroplacental complications or a poor pregnancy outcome. We studied the placental appearances in 1198 consecutive second trimester ultrasound scans performed for routine foetal abnormality screening at our institution. The placental thickness was measured at its widest diameter in the sagittal plane and the presence or absence of placental lakes was recorded. The birth weight in each case was plotted against the centile charts in use at the hospital and recorded. Specific outcome measures included foetal growth restriction (IUGR) with a birth weight below the 5th centile, pre-eclampsia, placental abruption, and perinatal deaths. Placental lakes were seen in 17.8 per cent of the scans. There was no significant association with either maternal socio-demographic factors or perinatal mortality (OR 0.94, 95 per cent CI 0.35–2.51). No association was seen with maternal cigarette smoking (OR 1.07, 95 per cent CI 0.75–1.52), a birth weight below the 5th centile (OR 0.68, 95 per cent CI 0.39–1.18), the development of pregnancy induced hypertension (OR 0.68, 95 per cent CI 0.35–1.32), severe pre-eclampsia (OR 0.72, 95 per cent CI 0.21–2.50), or placental abruption (OR 1.79, 95 per cent CI 0.46–6.99). A finding of placental lakes was six times more likely with a thick placenta >3 cm at 20 weeks gestation (OR 6.30, 95 per cent CI 4.39 to 9.05). A finding of placental lakes during the second trimester ultrasound scan does not appear to be associated with uteroplacental complications or an adverse pregnancy outcome. The lesions are more prevalent with increasing placental thickness.

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