By Dave Andrusko
It was all supposed to be just a regularly scheduled ultrasound at the University of Angers Hospital Center in western France for a woman in her 22nd week of her pregnancy. Instead it proved to be only the 27th recorded case in the history of obstetric medicine in which a mom had developed a tear in the wall of her uterus “through which her baby’s legs and a large amount of protective amniotic fluid escaped,” as described by Live Science.
This condition posed a danger to the 33-year-old mother, explained Ben Guarino of the Washington Post.
Her entire uterus could rupture, leading to internal bleeding. There was a severe risk of preterm birth. “Given high maternal and fetal risk, I suggested to the couple an early medical termination of pregnancy at 22 weeks of gestation,” the doctor [Pierre-Emmanuel Bouet] said.
The couple, however, opted to proceed. Eight weeks later, their child was born, delivered via C-section.
“The newborn was born healthy,” Bouet said. “He was premature, but healthy.” Six months later, the doctors reported, the infant was alive and kicking.
The layman might speculate the tear was caused by the baby kicking vigorously. Not so, assured Dr. Bouet, an obstetrician. The rupture was likely explained by the woman’s previous five C-sections.
“Because of scarring from the previous births, parts of the uterus remained atypically rigid instead of enlarging during the woman’s latest pregnancy,” Guarino wrote. “The uterine wall ruptured when it was unable to expand, causing an inch-long tear (pictured above, marked by the arrows).”
Oddly enough the mother felt no pain as a product of internal bleeding.
But fortunately. the position of the baby’s legs and the amniocele [the “portion of the fluid-filled sac that had ventured outside the woman’s uterus”] prevented blood loss.
Dr. Bouet scanned the rupture and the baby and last week, along with a colleague, published a picture of the amniocele in the New England Journal of Medicine.