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Placenta Previa vs Placenta Abruptio

Usually, in pregnancies, the placenta is attached securely to the upper section of the wall of the uterus. The lifeline of the foetus is the placenta, and there would be serious issues if this structure detaches.

Bleeding can take place at different times in pregnancy. There could be the following reasons why bleeding occurs in the late pregnancy (about 20 weeks later):

  • Placental abruption
  • Placenta previa
  • Unknown reasons

The two major and leading causes of antepartum haemorrhage are placenta previa and placenta abruption. It leads to significant perinatal and maternal morbidity and mortality. If severe, both these conditions can pose long-term neonatal and maternal sequelae.

The case of placenta abruptio reduces the oxygen and nutrient supply to the fetus, thus making it one of the leading causes of death of the fetus. Having said that, more than 90% of the cases survive placenta abruptio. Women with chronic high blood pressure usually are at high risk of placenta abruptio; however, no one fully has known the cause yet.

Main Differences between Placenta Previa and Placenta Abruptio

The placenta gets completely or partially detached from the wall of the uterus before delivery in case of placenta abruptio. In the case of placenta previa, the placenta is seen near or over the cervix in the lower section of the uterus. Typically, patients with placenta abruption face painful contractions and bleeding, while those with placenta previa sense painless bleeding.

Placenta previa

  • It is the low implantation of the placenta. Its different types are – Low-lying placenta previa, Partial placenta previa, Marginal placenta previa, Total placenta previa
  • In other words, the placental tissue is implemented completely or partially in the lower part of the uterus post 20 weeks of gestation
  • Here, the placenta that is abnormally implanted can completely or partially cover the cervix

Placenta abruptio

  • The placenta is correctly implanted, but the placenta prematurely separates
  • It is the separation of the placenta from the inner uterine wall before the delivery of the baby. It is also referred to as abruptio placentae and placental abruption
  • Bleeding is at the decidual-placental interface of the usually implanted placenta leading to complete or partial detachment of the placenta before delivery of the fetus

Key Differences between Placenta previa and Abruptio placentae

The table below depicts the differences between Placenta previa and Abruptio placentae.

Placenta previa

Abruptio placentae

What is it?

It is the low implantation of the placenta

Placenta detaches prematurely


Approximately 5 in every 1000 pregnancies

Close to 10% of pregnancies. It is the most common cause of perinatal death

Pain while bleeding


Stabbing, sharp pain

When is bleeding seen


May or may not be seen

Color of the blood when bleeding

Bright shade of red

Dark shade of red

You read some differences between Placenta previa and Abruptio placentae. For more such articles, visit us at BYJU’S NEET.

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