Obstet Gynecol Sci.  2016 Sep;59(5):388-392. 10.5468/ogs.2016.59.5.388.

Umbilical cord ulceration: An underdiagnosed entity

  • 1Department of Pathology, Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, India.
  • 2Department of Pathology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India. drshipra0902@gmail.com
  • 3Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, India.


Umbilical cord ulceration is a rare condition presenting with sudden fetal bradycardia due to fetal hemorrhage and in most cases leading to intrauterine death. A strong association with intestinal atresia has been reported. Most cases present after 30 weeks of gestation, with preterm labor or rupture of membranes followed by sudden fetal bradycardia. We report two such cases of umbilical cord ulceration and review the available literature. One of the cases interestingly presented at 26 weeks, much earlier than what is reported in the world literature. In view of high perinatal mortality and morbidity, awareness of this condition is mandatory for timely and appropriate management to improve the fetal outcome.


Intestinal atresia; Intrauterine hemorrhage; Umbilical cord ulcer; Whartson's jelly

MeSH Terms

Intestinal Atresia
Obstetric Labor, Premature
Perinatal Mortality
Umbilical Cord*


  • Fig. 1 Case 1. (A) Gross specimen showing surface ulceration of the umbilical cord with overlying hematoma. (B) Microscopic counterpart showing breach in the amniotic epithelium (H&E, ×100) (arrow). (C) Section showing umbilical vessel dilatation with focal rupture and hemorrhage into adjoining perivascular space (H&E, ×100). (D) Section at another level of the cord showing two uninvolved vessels (arrows). There is evidence of aneurysmal dilatation of the third vessel with marked loss of its muscular wall (H&E, ×100). Adjoining Wharton's jelly is showing hemorrhage and degeneration (inset; H&E, ×200) is noted.

  • Fig. 2 Case 2. (A) Section showing aneurysmal dilatation of two of the umbilical vessels (arrows) (H&E, ×100), dilatation and rupture of the umbilical vessel (inset; H&E, ×400). (B) Surface hemorrhage, an indirect evidence of focal breach in the amniotic epithelium (H&E, ×200).


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