Amniotic Fluid Embolism Differential Diagnoses

Updated: Mar 15, 2023
  • Author: Lisa E Moore, MD, MS, FACOG, RDMS; Chief Editor: Carl V Smith, MD  more...
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Diagnostic Considerations

Amniotic fluid embolism (AFE) an unpredictable event, and it is a clinical diagnosis.

Respond emergently in cases of AFE. Steps must be taken to stabilize the patient as soon as symptoms manifest.

Perform perimortem cesarean delivery in a timely fashion. After 5 minutes of unsuccessful CPR, abdominal delivery is recommended.

Consider the diagnosis of AFE during legal abortion. A review of the literature indicates that most case reports of AFE have occurred during late second-trimester abortions.

Further Reading

In 1993, Benson suggested a broader clinical definition of amniotic fluid embolism (AFE). Type 1 AFE was associated with DIC and type 2 AFE was not associated with DIC. The onset of symptoms as late as 48 hours postpartum were included in the definition. These criteria were not used in the AFE registries and have not been widely accepted. The article nonetheless provides interesting reading about possible nonfatal AFE.

Benson MD. Nonfatal amniotic fluid embolism. Three possible cases and a new clinical definition. Arch Fam Med. 1993 Sep;2(9):989-94. [Medline]

For an excellent overview of the topic read Amniotic Fluid Embolism by Steven Clark.

Clark SL. Amniotic Fluid Embolism. Obstet Gynecol 2014;123;337-48


Differential Diagnoses