Multidisciplinary Clinical Case Study

Multidisciplinary Approach to Complicated Pregnancy

Authors: Josip Andelo Borovac, BSc, MD candidate, Josko Bozic, MD, PhD, Tina Ticinovic Kurir, MD, PhD, Nikola Zaja, MD, Kresimir Kolic, MD, PhD, Vedran Hrboka, MD


A nulliparous pregnant woman in her mid-20s and in the 32nd week of gestation presented to the emergency department with severe headache and vomiting. She had an uneventful medical history; however, the physical examination upon hospital admission revealed a hypertensive emergency, papilledema, and 2+ dipstick proteinuria. Upon establishing the diagnosis of preeclampsia, aggressive therapy with corticosteroids, antihypertensive medication, and seizure prophylaxis was initiated. Hemodynamic stability was achieved within 24 hours and the patient remained in the observation unit located within the gynecology clinic. On the ninth day postadmission, however, her condition abruptly deteriorated and advanced to imminent eclampsia, accompanied by transient vision loss, altered mental status, and acute hypertensive crisis.

After the patient underwent successful emergent delivery via caesarean section, a laboratory workup revealed hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count, suggesting HELLP syndrome, a serious complication of eclampsia. This patient concurrently developed posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome, which was confirmed by magnetic resonance imaging and acute respiratory distress syndrome (the latter presented with diffuse bilateral infiltrates on x-ray and developing pulmonary edema in the absence of cardiac etiology). Because of these life-threatening dynamics, the patient was transferred to the intensive care unit for further treatment.

This case is a rare cascade of life-threatening complications that developed in a patient and required skillful multidisciplinary decision making and experienced management within an acute critical care setting. The final outcome of the treatment and intensive care was successful because both the patient and child survived and had no chronic or debilitating sequelae.

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