Anatomy of the Placenta

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  • The placental is a flattened, circular organ that develops in the uterus during pregnancy in order to support the fetus. The fetus is attached to the placenta via the umbilical cord.
  • The placenta transfers oxygen and nutrients from the maternal blood to the fetal blood; it also transfers wastes products from the fetal blood to the maternal blood for removal.
  • The umbilical cord is normally comprised of three blood vessels, two smaller umbilical arteries that carry deoxygenated blood from the fetus to the placenta, and a larger umbilical vein that supplies the fetus with oxygenated blood from the mother.
  • The placenta is expelled from the uterus after the fetus is delivered. Placental pathology can reveal important information about intrauterine conditions and events, as well as shed light on the cause of adverse fetal outcome.
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