Placental abruption (or abruptio placentae) is the term used for a partial separation of one portion of the placenta from the wall of the uterus. It usually causes some vaginal bleeding, but usually no pain. Abruption may be caused by high blood pressure in the mother, or injury to the mother, but in the vast majority of cases, no specific cause can be found. Mild cases cause no long-term problems, but if a large portion of the placenta separates from the uterus, the blood supply to the foetus may be reduced and cause reduced growth or, in severe cases, death of the foetus.
No treatment is available or necessary in most cases, but if there is significant bleeding, the mother may need a transfusion. In the rare cases where the foetus dies, an operation to remove it is necessary.