HELLP Syndrome at 17 Weeks Gestation: A Rare and Catastrophic Phenomenon

Erica L. Berry, Sara N. Iqbal


HELLP syndrome is a collection of symptoms described as hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes and low platelets. HELLP syndrome complicates 0.01-0.6% of pregnancies and can be considered a severe variant of preeclampsia. The occurrence of HELLP syndrome diagnosed before the 20th week of gestation has been most commonly reported in association with antiphospholipid antibody syndrome (APS) or triploid chromosomal anomalies. A 41-year-old primigravida was admitted at 17 weeks and 6 days gestation with hypertension, proteinuria, hemolytic anemia and acute renal injury. She was diagnosed with HELLP syndrome, and subsequently suffered from an intrauterine fetal demise. After delivery, the clinical manifestations of HELLP syndrome resolved within 7 days with the exception of her acute renal failure. Interdisciplinary teams of physicians were able to exclude other imitators of preeclampsia, such as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP), APS, lupus and acute fatty liver of pregnancy. This case is difficult to diagnose, given the similar presentation of several microangiopathic hemolytic anemias. The clinical manifestations and laboratory findings of HELLP and its mimicking conditions seem as if they are mirror images of each other. However, the discrete differences in our patient presentation, clinical findings, laboratory results and overall postpartum course leave HELLP syndrome as the most consistent diagnosis. It is imperative to investigate for all possible etiologies as HELLP syndrome at 17 weeks gestation is extremely rare and mimicking conditions may require alternative management strategies.

J Clin Gynecol Obstet. 2014;3(4):147-150
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.14740/jcgo297w


Pregnancy; HELLP; Antiphospholipid antibody syndrome; Second trimester

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