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Hydrops fetalis: Wikis


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Hydrops fatalis due to haemolytic disease/isoimmunization
Classification and external resources
ICD-10 P56.
ICD-9 773.3
Hydrops fetalis not due to haemolytic disease/isoimmunization
Classification and external resources
ICD-10 P83.2
ICD-9 778.0

Hydrops fetalis is a condition in the fetus characterized by an accumulation of fluid, or edema, in at least two fetal compartments, including the subcutaneous tissue, pleura, pericardium, or in the abdomen, which is also known as ascites. The edema is usually seen in the fetal subcutaneous tissue, sometimes leading to spontaneous abortion. It is a prenatal form of heart failure, in which the heart is unable to satisfy its demand for a high amount of blood flow.

An ultrasound featuring a baby with Hydrops fetalis


Classification and causes

Hydrops fetalis usually stems from fetal anemia, when the heart needs to pump a much greater volume of blood to deliver the same amount of oxygen. This anemia can have either an immune or non-immune cause. Non-immune hydrops can also be unrelated to anemia, for example if a tumor or congenital cystic adenomatoid malformation increases the demand for blood flow.


Immune causes

  • Rh disease is the major cause for immune mediated hydrops fetalis; however, owing to preventative methods developed in the 1970s Rh disease has markedly declined. Rh disease can be prevented by administration of anti-D IgG (Rho(D) Immune Globulin) injections to RhD-negative mothers during pregnancy and/or within 72 hours of the delivery.

Non-Immune causes

The non-immune form of hydrops fetalis has many causes including:


Hydrops fetalis can be diagnosed and monitored by ultrasound scans.


The treatment depends on the cause.

Severely anemic fetuses can be treated with blood transfusions while still in the womb.

See also


Cassidy MD, George. Hydrops Fetalis. eMedicine Online. 2004.

External links


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