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Intrauterine balloon tamponade for control of postpartum hemorrhage

Younes N Bakri, MD
Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, PhD, DSc, FRCS, FRCOG
Section Editor
Vincenzo Berghella, MD
Deputy Editor
Vanessa A Barss, MD, FACOG


Postpartum hemorrhage is an obstetrical emergency that can follow vaginal or cesarean delivery. It is one of the leading causes of maternal mortality, especially in the developing world [1]. Early use of intrauterine balloon tamponade is a way of limiting ongoing uterine blood loss while initiating other measures, and can be readily implemented by providers with minimal training. It can be a life-saving intervention, especially in low-resource settings where blood transfusion and surgical facilities may not be available [2]. Multiple types of balloons catheters are available for uterine tamponade. It is prudent to include one of these devices in postpartum hemorrhage kits.

This topic will discuss the use of intrauterine balloon catheters in the management of postpartum hemorrhage. Detailed information on medical and surgical treatments for postpartum hemorrhage, as well as the causes, can be found separately. (See "Overview of postpartum hemorrhage" and "Postpartum hemorrhage: Medical and minimally invasive management" and "Postpartum hemorrhage: Management approaches requiring laparotomy".)

Use of balloon tamponade and other interventions for management of acute severe menorrhagia are reviewed separately. (See "Managing an episode of severe or prolonged uterine bleeding".)


The following balloon catheters were specifically designed for placement in the uterus for control of postpartum hemorrhage:

Bakri tamponade balloon catheter – The Bakri tamponade balloon catheter is the first uterine tamponade balloon system designed specifically for the treatment of obstetric hemorrhage [3]. It consists of a silicone balloon (picture 1) (maximum recommended fill volume 500 mL, but volumes up to 1300 mL have been used [4]) connected to a 24 French silicone catheter 54 cm in length. The collapsed balloon is inserted into the uterus (figure 1); when filled with fluid, the balloon adapts to the configuration of the uterine cavity to tamponade uterine bleeding. The central lumen of the catheter allows drainage and is designed to monitor ongoing bleeding above the level of the balloon (figure 2). The device is intended for one-time use.

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Sep 26, 2017.
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