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Amniotic fluid embolism - Definition


An embolism is the sudden interruption of a liquid circulating in the body, blood or lymph, by a foreign body. Amniotic fluid is the fluid in which the fetus develops during pregnancy and contains particles of meconium (fetal feces) and proteins. An amniotic fluid embolism (AFE) is a tragic, but fortunately uncommon, accident that occurs during a complicated delivery: the amniotic fluid is released into the blood and travels to the lungs, blocking certain small pulmonary arteries. Initial symptoms may seem mild such as discomfort, anxiety, or agitation, but rapidly become more serious, as the patient enters a state of shock with a sudden drop in blood pressure and difficulty breathing, which can lead to cardiac arrest.