A diagnosis of amniotic fluid embolism is typically made after other conditions have been ruled out.
Your health care provider might order the following lab tests during your evaluation:
- Blood tests, including those that evaluate clotting, heart enzymes, electrolytes and blood type, as well as a complete blood count (CBC)
- Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) to evaluate your heart's rhythm
- Pulse oximetry to check the amount of oxygen in your blood
- Chest X-ray to look for fluid around your heart
- Echocardiography to evaluate your heart's function
Amniotic fluid embolism requires rapid treatment to address low blood oxygen and low blood pressure.
Emergency treatments might include:
- Catheter placement. A thin, hollow tube placed into one of your arteries (arterial catheter) might be used to monitor your blood pressure. You might also have another tube placed into a vein in your chest (central venous catheter), which can be used to give fluids, medications or transfusions, as well as draw blood.
- Oxygen. You might need to have a breathing tube inserted into your airway to help you breathe.
- Medications. Your doctor might give you medications to improve and support your heart function. Other medications might be used to decrease the pressure caused by fluid going into your heart and lungs.
- Transfusions. If you have uncontrollable bleeding, you'll need transfusions of blood, blood products and replacement fluids.
If you have amniotic fluid embolism before delivering your baby, your doctor will treat you with the goal of safely delivering your baby as soon as possible. An emergency C-section might be needed.
Coping and support
Experiencing a life-threatening pregnancy condition can be frightening and stressful for you and your family. Afterward, you might relive the experience and have nightmares and flashbacks.
During this challenging time, lean on loved ones for support. Consider joining a survivors' network. Also, work with your health care provider to determine how you can safely manage your recovery and your role as the mother of a newborn.
Aug. 18, 2020
- Pacheco LD, et al. Amniotic fluid embolism: Diagnosis and management. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2016;215:B16.
- Indraccolo U, et al. Risk factors for fatality in amniotic fluid embolism: A systematic review and analysis of a data pool. The Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine. 2018;31:661.
- Baldisseri MR. Amniotic fluid embolism syndrome. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Sept. 11, 2018.
- McBride A. Clinical presentation and treatment of amniotic fluid embolism. AACN Advanced Critical Care. 2018;29:336.