Beyond uterine atony: characterizing postpartum hemorrhage coagulopathy

Published:November 30, 2022DOI:


      Postpartum hemorrhage is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, yet the associated early coagulopathy is not well defined.


      We hypothesized that women who develop postpartum hemorrhage have a distinct derangement of thrombin generation and coagulation factors compared with postpartum women without postpartum hemorrhage.


      This prospective study of pregnant patients with postpartum hemorrhage was completed at a single urban hospital. Blood was drawn on postpartum hemorrhage diagnosis and 2 and 4 hours later. Assays of patients with postpartum hemorrhage included thrombelastography, whole blood thrombin generation, coagulation factor activity, tissue factor levels and activity, and tissue factor pathway inhibitor levels, which were compared with that of patients without postpartum hemorrhage.


      A total of 81 patients were included in this study. Of those patients, 66 had postpartum hemorrhage, and 15 served as controls. Compared with patients without PPH, patients with postpartum hemorrhage had lower fibrinogen levels (469.0 mg/dL vs 411.0 mg/dL; P=.02), increased tissue plasminogen activator resistance (fibrinolysis 30 minutes after maximal clot strength: 8.7% vs 4.2%; P=.02), decreased peak thrombin concentration (150.2 nM vs 40.7 nM; P=.01), and decreased maximal rate of thrombin generation (60.1 nM/minute vs 2.8 nM/minute; P=.02). Furthermore, compared with patients without postpartum hemorrhage, patients with postpartum hemorrhage had decreased tissue factor levels (444.3 pg/mL vs 267.1 pg/mL; P=.02) and increased tissue factor pathway inhibitor levels (0.6 U/mL vs 0.8 U/mL; P=.04), with decreased tissue factor pathway inhibitor ratios (624 vs 299; P=.01).


      PPH is not only an issue of uterine tone and mechanical bleeding but also a distinct coagulopathy that is characterized by decreased fibrinogen level, clot breakdown resistance, and markedly low thrombin generation. This pathology seemed to be driven by low tissue factor and high tissue factor pathway inhibitor levels.


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