Management of the Pregnant Trauma Patient: A Systematic Literature Review

Marjorie R. Liggett*, Ali Amro, Moeun Son, Steven Schwulst

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Introduction: Trauma during pregnancy is the leading cause of non-obstetric maternal death and complicates up to 5%-7% of pregnancies. This systematic review without meta-analysis explores the current literature regarding the assessment and management of pregnant trauma patients to provide evidence-based recommendations to guide the general surgeon regarding the prognostic value of laboratory testing including Kleihauer-Betke testing, duration of maternal and fetal monitoring, the use of tranexamic acid, the safety of radiographic studies, and the utility of perimortem cesarean section to improve maternal and fetal mortality. Materials and methods: A systematic search of MEDLINE (Ovid), the Cochrane Library (Wiley), and Embase (Elsevier) was performed. The reference lists of included studies were reviewed for relevant citations. Results: Of the 45 studies included in this review, there was reasonable evidence to suggest that the minimally injured pregnant trauma patient should be observed for a minimum of 4 h, CT scans to rule out traumatic injury are necessary and safe, perimortem cesarean sections should be performed as soon as maternal cardiac arrest occurs. Conclusions: We recommend delivery by perimortem cesarean section as soon as possible after maternal cardiac arrest, to provide TXA to the hemorrhaging pregnant trauma patient, to obtain trauma CT scans as indicated, and to observe the injured pregnant patient for a minimum of at least 4 h. Additional high-quality studies focusing on the prognostic potential of KB tests and other laboratory studies are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-196
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - May 2023


  • Fetal monitoring
  • Kleihauer-Betke testing
  • Perimortem cesarean section
  • Pregnancy
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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