(redirected from Amniotic fluid embolism)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Acronyms, Wikipedia.


1. the occlusion of a blood vessel by an embolus
2. Botany the blocking of a xylem vessel by an air bubble
3. RC Church a prayer inserted in the canon of the Mass between the Lord's Prayer and the breaking of the bread
4. another name (not in technical use) for embolus
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



disruption of the blood supply to an organ or tissue owing to blockage of a blood vessel by any type of particle transported by the blood or lymph stream but not normally circulating therein.

Circulatory disorders are aggravated by reflex vasospasms and secondary thrombosis. In the case of obstruction of small vessels, blood circulation can be quickly restored by collateral circulation, so that the embolism may be described as incomplete. Thromboembolism, which is caused by a thrombus or part of a thrombus that has broken free, is the type that is most important in practical terms. Emboli from peripheral veins usually lodge in the basin of the pulmonary artery. If there are defects in the septa of the heart, the emboli may reach the arterial system, bypassing the pulmonary circulation; this is called a paradoxical embolism. Embolism in the systemic circulation arteries is usually caused by the breaking away of thrombotic material from the left ventricular valves or walls, as in endocarditis, in heart diseases, and in aneurysm of the left ventricle.

Other possible types are tissue and fat embolisms (especially after extensive and severe injuries or fractures of the long tubular bones), air or gas embolisms (as in the case of open heart surgery, injuries to the large veins of the neck and chest, and decompression sickness), bacillary embolisms (obstruction by aggregations of microbes), and embolisms caused by foreign bodies—mainly by small fragments in gunshot wounds—which are sometimes moved by the force of gravity against the direction of the blood stream (retrograde, or venous, embolism).

Treatment includes the use of anticoagulants, thrombolytic and spasmolytic agents, antibiotics, therapeutic recompression (for decompression sickness), and surgical removal of the embolus (embolectomy).


Chazov, E. I. Trombozy i embolii v klinike vnutrennikh boleznei. Moscow-Warsaw, 1966.
Tregubenko, A. I. Trombozy i embolii v khirurgii. Kiev, 1972.
Perlick, E. Antikoagulanten. Leipzig, 1964.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


The blocking of a blood vessel by an embolus.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Clark, "Amniotic fluid embolism," Obstetrics & Gynecology, vol.
Early theoretical concerns over amniotic fluid embolism have not been borne out in clinical practice and 80% of maternity units identified that the barrier to greater use of ICS was lack of training rather than safety concerns.
Her husband, Arnel, was told immediately afterwards that she had died from an amniotic fluid embolism, the inquest heard.
Experts in their fields have written chapters discussing general anaesthesia and associated intubation and aspiration, regional anaesthesia, haemorrhage, hypertension, cardiac disease, thromboembolism, amniotic fluid embolism, sepsis and intensive care.
Dr Andrew Booth, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Scarborough Hospital, said the amniotic fluid embolism was "a very rare complication".
The label now lists the major adverse effects of Cytotec's obstetric uses, including hyperstimulation of the uterus, which may progress to uterine tetany with marked impairment of uteroplacental blood flow; uterine rupture (requiring surgical repair, hysterectomy, and/or salpingo-oophorectomy); or amniotic fluid embolism. Pelvic pain, retained placenta, severe genital bleeding, shock, fetal bradycardia, and fetal and maternal death have been reported.
Serious adverse events reported following off-label use of Cytotec in pregnant women include maternal or fetal death; uterine hyperstimulation, rupture or perforation requiring uterine surgical repair, hysterectomy, or salpingo-oophorectomy; amniotic fluid embolism; severe vaginal bleeding; retained placenta; shock; fetal bradycardia; and pelvic pain.
Amniotic fluid embolism may also occur secondary to trauma.
Severe maternal morbidities, including renal failure, shock, amniotic fluid embolism, and cardiac morbidity, were significantly increased for women older than 39 years, according to results of a study that included more than 800,000 singleton births over 10 years.
Amniotic fluid embolism accounted for 7% of all maternal deaths and venous thromboembolism for 9.2% of all maternal deaths.