Umbilical Cord Varix: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Complications, Prognosis, Prevention

Umbilical cord is a pipe like viaduct that supplies oxygen and nutrition to the baby from the mother, so it can be well understood how important it is for the umbilical cord to perform well all the time. The umbilical cord is attached to the abdomen of the fetus originating from the placenta, so any kind of anomaly may disturb the process of baby’s growth thus leading to the termination of pregnancy. While having the first sonogram, it may happen that despite everything being right and satisfactory, there can be presence of umbilical cord varix which creates trauma for both the potential mother and the fetus. Although earlier umbilical cord varix used to be a rare incident, but these days, the frequency of having this Umbilical Cord abnormality is common. However, there is nothing to be freaked out about as expectant mothers are giving birth to healthy babies while facing problem. However, knowing about this condition, umbilical cord varix, the causes and preventive measures help the future mother to remain calm and composed. Mothers having Umbilical Cord Varix don’t need to be scared and tensed as their baby will develop normally and the echogram of heart will be fine. However, close monitoring is needed in umbilical cord varix, as such abnormality of Umbilical Cord targets fetus’s heart in some cases. Fetal echocardiogram will determine whether the baby’s heart is running through any kind of risk or not.

Umbilical Cord Varix

What is Umbilical Cord Varix?

Umbilical Cord Varix is an abnormal condition of the umbilical cord where the umbilical vein present inside the umbilical cord gets abnormally dilated. 

Umbilical Cord Varix – In Detail

Certainly one of the major abnormalities of Umbilical cord, where the umbilical vein within the umbilical cord abnormally enlarges and creates trouble, such enlargement is clinically referred to as umbilical cord varix. Fetal umbilical cord is comprised of one vein and two umbilical arteries. When a woman becomes pregnant, the umbilical cord is the connecting cord between the mother and her fetus. The function of the umbilical cord is to supply blood, oxygen and nutrients from mother to the fetus. Placenta is an important disc shaped brown-reddish organ that establishes connection between the fetus and the mother via umbilical cord. Among all abnormalities, Umbilical Cord Varix is one rare condition that comes with unidentified risk factors and unidentified cause as well. However, Umbilical Cord Varix comes with no apparent signs and symptoms. Umbilical Cord Varix provokes unprompted termination of pregnancy and stillbirths. Umbilical Cord Varix needs immediate and suitable treatment for the best outcome.

What is Cause of Umbilical Cord Varix?

As of now, the exact cause of Umbilical Cord Varix is not known. The risk factors for Umbilical Cord Varix are also not clear. Studies are going on to find the cause and risk factors for Umbilical Cord Varix.

What are the Symptoms of Umbilical Cord Varix

  • Physically, there are no apparent signs and symptoms of Umbilical Cord Varix for both the growing fetus as well as the pregnant mother, so close monitoring is required to restrict any abrupt crisis. 
  • However in worst possible cases, the blood flow from mother to the fetus can decrease leading to varying developmental issues.
  • When the blood vessels are compressed within the cord, it results in fetal distress with non-reassuring fetal heart rates.
  • When nine months are completed, the linear diameter of the umbilical cord becomes 8 mm long. When the cord lengthens and becomes more than 9 mm then hints at umbilical cord varix.
  • When diagnosis is performed, pathologists check this growth and determine the severity of the situation.
  • Due to improper blood flow, often the fetus suffers. The compression of the vessels in the umbilical cord can cause fetal distress and fetal heart problem may arise due to Umbilical cord varix.

How is Umbilical Cord Varix Diagnosed?

Physical examination with an assessment of the mother’s medical history is done. The healthcare provider monitors all the symptoms of fetal distress. A prenatal ultrasound scan reveals the unusually puffed-up umbilical vein and its movement. Color Doppler ultrasound is very useful in detecting umbilical cord varix. Examination of the placenta after the birth of the child helps in better understanding of Umbilical cord varix.

What Are The Treatment Options Accessible For Umbilical Cord Varix?

As of now, there is no specific treatment for umbilical cord varix. Symptomatic and supportive treatment is done if there is any complication and emergency may need to be done in case of fetal distress. Certainly periodic monitoring is required as the presence of Umbilical Cord Varix hints at high-risk pregnancy.

What Are The Complications that Umbilical Cord Varix Provokes?

  • There is no specific complication known to arise out of Umbilical Cord Varix, but in worst cases there can be fetal distress that emerges from blood vessel compression.
  • Intrauterine Growth Retardation (IUGR) can occur.
  • Early labor may occur which may cause problems in Stillbirths by causing splits in blood vessels.
  • Right after the baby is born, the baby may suffer from severe respiratory distress. As the umbilical cord is responsible for supplying blood, so any kind of malformation and abnormalities are likely to affect the fetus thus stopping the heart beat.

What Are The Possible Preventive Measures for Umbilical Cord Varix?

  • As mentioned above, there is no possible treatment or preventive measures discovered which can correct Umbilical Cord Varix. 
  • While having sonogram, if a woman is diagnosed as having Umbilical Cord Varix, then periodic monitoring and careful diagnosis is what one requires to steer away from critical situations.
  • Taking second opinion is always best without reaching conclusion just like that. Even after initial diagnosis, it’s better to seek few opinions, so there remains no chance for miscommunication or misinterpretation.

What is The Prognosis of Umbilical Cord Varix?

Umbilical Cord Varix is associated with still births, miscarriage so this condition needs continuous and close clinical supervision right after the diagnosis of the condition. For best outcome, the mother needs to visit her heath care provider for assured well being of her health and the fetus. Since there is no specific preventive therapy so, there could be issues emerging out of the situation, and steady monitoring can help one deal with the situation which makes the prognosis of umbilical cord varix guarded.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 13, 2018

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