Placental Disorders Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What can I expect during my first consultation?

We will initially conduct an ultrasound to assess whether you have a placental disorder. If confirmed, and if you or your provider would like you to deliver at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, you will have a full consultation with a maternal-fetal medicine specialist about your specific condition and to formulate a plan of care for your pregnancy and delivery.

What are the different kinds of placental attachment disorders?

Some kinds of placental disorders (placenta previa, accreta, increta, and percreta) happen when a woman’s placenta grows across the cervix or is attached too deeply to the uterine wall. They are all serious pregnancy conditions, with placenta accreta being the mildest.

How are placental attachment disorders diagnosed?

A diagnosis is usually based on an ultrasound taken in the second or third trimester. Different hospitals have different ultrasound methodologies, and we use a specifically calibrated ultrasound in order to get the best diagnostic findings. Sometimes, a nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the pelvis is done.

How are placental attachment disorders typically treated?

If your condition is diagnosed during your pregnancy, you will probably have a combined cesarean delivery and hysterectomy between 34 and 37 weeks if you haven’t had other complications. If you have a hysterectomy, your ovaries will usually be left intact.

Learn more about how we treat placental attachment disorders at Packard Children's Hospital.

Why does a multidisciplinary approach matter in treating placental attachment disorders? Who is part of a multidisciplinary care team?

We take a multidisciplinary approach drawing on the specific skills of a large team of specialists to create a highly individualized delivery plan that will help prevent major complications at birth, and ensure a safe delivery.

This team includes specialists, from maternal-fetal medicine (high-risk obstetrics), gynecologic oncology, obstetric anesthesia, the Stanford Blood Center, neonatal intensive care, radiology and interventional radiology, vascular surgery, and many more.

Are there risks for the baby?

Delivery is often scheduled three to six weeks early, depending on the severity of the condition. Babies born this early often need to stay in the NICU. Packard Children’s Hospital offers a Level IV NICU, the highest level of care for babies with critical needs.

How should someone choose a hospital for placental disorders treatment?

The quality of diagnostic, monitoring, surgical, and delivery care that a woman receives matters greatly, which is why we place an emphasis on every step of your care. We recommend that you consider your provider’s expertise in this area and the protocols they have in place specifically for caring for women with placental disorders. You may want to review the criteria suggested by the National Accreta Foundation.

To learn about our robust approach to placental attachment disorders, visit our placental disorders conditions and services page.