puerperal fever


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puerperal

 [pu-er´per-al]
pertaining to a puerpera or to the puerperium.
puerperal fever an infectious, sometimes fatal, disease of childbirth; until the mid-19th century, this dreaded, then-mysterious illness could sweep through a hospital maternity ward and kill most of the new mothers. Today strict aseptic hospital techniques have made the condition uncommon in most parts of the world, except in unusual circumstances such as illegally induced abortion. Called also puerperal sepsis and childbed fever.

Puerperal fever results from an infection, usually streptococcal, originating in the birth canal and affecting the endometrium. This infection can spread throughout the body, causing septicemia. The preliminary symptoms are fever, chills, excessive bleeding, foul lochia, and abdominal and pelvic pain. In acute stages, the pain spreads to the legs and chest; complications may be serious or even fatal. Treatment consists mainly of administration of antibiotics, which in most instances promptly clear up the infection. If the disease has progressed to an acute stage before treatment begins, blood transfusions may be necessary.

pu·er·per·al fe·ver

postpartum sepsis with a rise in fever after the first 24 hours following delivery, but before the eleventh postpartum day.

puerperal fever

n.
An illness resulting from infection of the endometrium following childbirth or abortion, marked by fever and septicemia and usually caused by unsterile technique. Also called childbed fever.

puerperal fever

a syndrome associated with systemic bacterial infection and septicemia that occurs after childbirth, usually as a result of unsterile obstetric technique. It is characterized by endometritis, fever, tachycardia, uterine tenderness, and foul lochia. If it is untreated, prostration, renal failure, bacteremic shock, and death may occur. The causative organism is most often one of the hemolytic streptococci. Puerperal fever was little known before hospital childbirth became common, early in the nineteenth century; then it became an endemic and frequently epidemic scourge that resulted in the deaths of many thousands of mothers and infants. Maternal mortality rates of 20% and higher were common in parts of the world where childbirth occurred in hospitals. Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis, in Vienna, noted that women attended by midwives were much less likely to contract the disease than those attended by physicians and medical students. Midwives did not perform frequent vaginal examinations during labor and did not participate in autopsies. Although the germ theory of disease had not yet been elaborated, Semmelweis deduced that the causative agent of the disease was being transmitted by doctors and students from the infected cadavers in the autopsy room to women in labor on the maternity wards. After institution of a policy requiring that the hands and instruments of obstetric attendants be disinfected, the maternal mortality rate in his clinic dropped dramatically. His work was widely ignored or discredited for almost half a century because physicians were unwilling to believe that they were the agents of transmission. Late in the nineteenth century, after Pasteur's discovery of microbes, Semmelweis was posthumously vindicated. Sterile techniques were gradually instituted, but not until the fourth decade of the twentieth century did puerperal fever cease to be the leading cause of maternal death. Postpartum uterine infection is common but is effectively treated with massive parenteral doses of antibiotics before it becomes a systemic illness. Also called childbed fever, puerperal sepsis.

pu·er·per·al fe·ver

(pyū-er'pĕr-ăl fē'vĕr)
Postpartum sepsis with a rise in temperature after the first 24 hours following delivery, but before the eleventh postpartum day.
Synonym(s): childbed fever.

puerperal

pertaining to a puerpera or to the puerperium.

puerperal fever
puerperal laminitis
puerperal metritis
infection of the uterus in a puerperal female.
puerperal psychosis
1. whelping bitches sometimes display frenzied, destructive behavior and aggression.
2. sows, see farrowing hysteria.
puerperal tetanus
see tetanus.
puerperal tetany
see puerperal tetany.
References in periodicals archive ?
Unlike the plight of women in childbirth exposed to puerperal fever by ignorant doctors in the past, no informed person has to suffer from lack of vitamin D.
Puerperal fever was treated with a combination of (Cyperus rotundus + Psidium guajava + Punica granatum) by Kaviraj 1; the same ailment was treated with Physalis minima by Kaviraj 4.
d) 76 Puerperal fever (sutika or badok rogh), tooth disease.
When his friend Jakob Kolletschka, a professor of forensic medicine, died of a disease indistinguishable from that of women with fatal puerperal fever, Semmelweis became convinced that somehow cleanliness was at the root of the problem.
In the first, Semmelweis assembled a vast collection of data, presented in 63 detailed tables, to construct a theory for the transmission of puerperal fever.
When a colleague who had received a scalpel cut died of infection, Semmelweis concluded that puerperal fever was septic and contagious.
As a professor of obstetrics at the University of Pest Hospital, he enforced antiseptic practices and reduced the death rate from puerperal fever to 0.