Research

The spectrum of placental pathology in a public v. private laboratory practice in Gauteng Province, South Africa

M J Savage-Reid, C A Wright, R Wadee

Abstract


Background. Laboratory information systems have a wealth of patient and health data that can be made available for research. These data can serve to better inform healthcare delivery and formulation of policies. The placenta is just one histopathology laboratory specimen that can provide such insight, particularly with regard to maternal and neonatal healthcare. 

Objectives. To describe the spectrum of placental pathology in a private and public laboratory and to ascertain implications for improved maternal and neonatal healthcare and policies. 

Methods. We conducted a retrospective descriptive study of placental histopathology reports from Lancet Laboratories and the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) in Johannesburg over a 1-year period (August 2017 - July 2018). The reports were categorised according to the 2014 Amsterdam Placental Workshop Group Consensus Statement and the percentages of each diagnostic entity compared between the two laboratories. These diagnostic categories included ascending infection, maternal vascular malperfusion (MVM), fetal vascular malperfusion, haematogenous infection, chronic villitis of unknown aetiology, retroplacental haemorrhage, no specific pathological changes and ‘other’. Differences in maternal age and gestational age were also compared. 

Results. There were 1 172 and 946 placentas that were entered into the study at Lancet and NHLS, respectively. MVM was the most prevalent pathology seen in both laboratories (40.6% and 47.7%; p=0.3193). Mean maternal and gestational age were both higher in the private system (both p<0.0000). 

Conclusion. Differences in placental pathology were multifactorial and reasons may include differences in socioeconomic status and resources, clinical and laboratory policies and practices, as well as pathologist training and expertise. Clear clinical guidelines for the submission and histopathological examination of the placenta are required to better inform neonatal and maternal healthcare and policies. In our divided healthcare system, collaborative medical research is not only possible between the public and private sectors but also necessary to achieve better healthcare and equity for patients in South Africa.


Authors' affiliations

M J Savage-Reid, Department of Anatomical Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; National Health Laboratory Services, Johannesburg, South Africa

C A Wright, Department of Anatomical Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa;Lancet Laboratories, Richmond, Johannesburg, South Africa

R Wadee, Department of Anatomical Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; National Health Laboratory Services, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Keywords

Placenta; Placental pathology; Private laboratory; State laboratory; Health care system; Health inequity

Cite this article

South African Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 2020;26(2):. DOI:10.7196/sajog.1599

Article History

Date submitted: 2020-07-03
Date published: 2020-12-15

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