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Prenatal diagnosis and management of umbilical cord abnormalities

Waldo Sepulveda, MD
Section Editors
Deborah Levine, MD
Lynn L Simpson, MD
Deputy Editor
Vanessa A Barss, MD, FACOG


This topic will discuss structural abnormalities of the umbilical cord that may be identified during a prenatal ultrasound examination, including their potential clinical significance and management of affected pregnancies. Postnatal examination of the umbilical cord is reviewed separately.

(See "Gross examination of the placenta", section on 'Umbilical cord'.)

(See "The placental pathology report", section on 'Umbilical cord'.)


The umbilical cord contains two arteries and one vein surrounded by a gelatinous stroma (ie, Wharton's jelly) and covered by a single layer of amnion.

The left and right umbilical arteries are branches of the left and right internal iliac arteries, respectively. In the pelvis, the two arteries are separated by the bladder but then lie adjacent to each other at the umbilicus, where they exit the fetus and enter the umbilical cord (figure 1). The arteries follow a helical course around the umbilical vein until reaching the placenta, where they separate again and form the chorionic arteries on the surface of the placenta, with perforating branches to the underlying villi (figure 2).

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Jul 19, 2017.
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