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Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Volume 11, Issue 2, Pages 117-122

Second-Trimester Pregnancy Loss at an Urban Hospital

1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, UMDNJ – New Jersey Medical School, 185 South Orange Avenue, PO Box 1709, Newark 07101, NJ, USA
2Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women's Health, Newark, NJ, USA
3Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health, UMDNJ New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ, USA
4Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, NY, USA

Received 18 November 2002; Accepted 1 May 2003

Copyright © 2003 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Objectives: Second-trimester spontaneous pregnancy losses are less common than first-trimester losses, and are often associated with ascending infection and/or acute chorioamnionitis. A Medline search revealed only two large studies published in the recent literature, reporting incidences of chorioamnionitis of 39.3% and 58.2%, respectively. These studies did not address the use of histopathology for the identification of organisms. Since ascending infection is likely to be a significant cause of second-trimester loss in the inner-city population at the University Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, we sought to evaluate the usefulness of stains for microorganisms, which are rarely utilized on these specimens.

Methods: Retrospective review of the medical records and pathologic material for cases of spontaneous abortions seen at the University Hospital in Newark between January 1999 and March 2001 was undertaken. Stains for microorganisms were performed on archival placental tissue for cases with histologic acute chorioamnionitis.

Results: A total of 67 cases were available for review, of which 38 cases (56.7%) showed histologic acute chorioamnionitis, similar to the rates in one previous study, but significantly higher than those in the other (p = 0.01). Of 25 cases with histological chorioamnionitis for which appropriate fetal material was available, 13 cases (52%) showed polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) in the fetal lungs, one case (4%) showed PMNs in the fetal stomach, and seven cases (28%) showed PMNs in both the lung and the stomach. Of the 38 cases with chorioamnionitis, Gram stains showed Gram-positive cocci in six cases, two of which were culture positive for group B streptococcus. Warthin–Starry stains showed filamentous organisms consistent with Fusobacterium sp. in the placenta in three cases.

Conclusions: Acute chorioamnionitis is associated with second-trimester pregnancy loss at this inner-city hospital, and may be related to the high incidence of risk factors in this population. A small proportion of cases can be further characterized by the inclusion of Gram and Warthin–Starry stains in the evaluation. Selection of cases with histologic acute chorioamnionitis for further study with special stains may provide additional information on the causative organism.