Hydrops fetalis

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Hydrops fetalis
Ultrasound Scan ND 373.jpg
An ultrasound featuring a baby with Hydrops fetalis
Classification and external resources
ICD-10 P56, P83.2
ICD-9-CM 773.3, 778.0
DiseasesDB 29715
MedlinePlus 007308
eMedicine ped/1042
Patient UK Hydrops fetalis
MeSH D015160

Hydrops fetalis is a condition in the fetus characterized by an accumulation of fluid, or edema, in at least two fetal compartments.[1] By comparison, hydrops allantois or hydrops amnion are an accumulation of excessive fluid in the allantoic or amniotic space respectively.[2]

Signs and symptoms[edit]

Locations can include:

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.


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 fetal tumor or congenital cystic adenomatoid malformation increases the demand for blood flow.[citation needed] The increased demand for cardiac output leads to heart failure, and corresponding edema.


  • Rh disease is a 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. However a small percentage of pregnant mothers are still susceptible to Rh disease even after having been administered anti-D IgG (Rho(D) Immune Globulin)


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


Hydrops fetalis can be diagnosed and monitored by ultrasound scans. Prenatal ultrasound scanning enables early recognition of hydrops fetalis and has been enhanced with the introduction of MCA Doppler.


The treatment depends on the cause.

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

See also[edit]


External links[edit]