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Placental Histology Guidelines

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Examination or storage will be performed on those specimens where there is a clinical indication clearly written on the request form and signed by a consultant.

Placental specimens that should be sent to Birmingham Women’s Hospital:

    1. All still birth/ pregnancy loss > 18 weeks                                                            

N.B Guidance was issued on 05.03.2020 which states that BWH Perinatal Service will no longer be accepting “live birth” placenta specimens referred by external services for histological analysis.  BWH will continue to provide a diagnostic service for placenta specimens associated with pregnancy loss.

Placental specimens that should be sent to Birmingham Heartlands Histology:

    1. Antepartum haemorrhage/ Placental abruption                                                
    1. Maternal Sepsis/ Maternal pyrexia (> 38°C)
    1. Suspected Chorioamnionitis                                            
    1. Morbidly adherent placenta

Any specimens sent to Heartlands Histology for the following conditions will be stored for 14 days from specimen taken, prior to automatic disposal:



Hepatitis B, HIV etc.                                   

Gestational diabetes

Placenta praevia

Rhesus negative mother

Twins/multiple pregnancies (uncomplicated)    

Maternal Group B streptococcus

Abnormal placental shape

Uncomplicated pre-eclampsia

2 vessel cord



Postpartum haemorrhage

Prematurity (32-36 weeks)



Severe foetal distress requiring admission to NNU  -(Store placenta until further instructions. Send to BWH if baby dies.)

 Other maternal disease with normal pregnancy outcome.


Should a neonate or the mother deteriorate a written and signed request from the consultant will be needed to process prior to routine BHH mortuary disposal after 14 days.

Requests for processing and examination after placenta has been placed in storage


Occasionally upon receipt of a report stating that a placenta is to be disposed of a clinician may request that they want it processing.  The report generated by Cellular Pathology states “If processing of this sample is required please contact the department within this 14 day period. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with details”

Placental specimens not requiring examination should be disposed directly from the delivery suite.

 Any specimens that do not satisfy the criteria mentioned above or are not accompanied by a request form signed by the consultant will be returned to the delivery suite.



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The laboratories at Heartlands Hospital, Good Hope Hospital and Solihull Hospital form part of the services provided by University Hospitals Birmingham and are UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service) accredited to the ISO 15189:2012 standard. For a list of accredited tests and other information please visit the UKAS website using the following link: https://www.ukas.com/find-an-organisation/

  • Heartlands, Good Hope and Solihull Hospital pathology laboratories are a UKAS accredited medical laboratory No.8217
  • United Kingdom Health Security Agency laboratory is a UKAS accredited medical laboratory No.8213

Tests not appearing on the UKAS Schedule of Accreditation currently remain outside of our scope of accreditation. However, these tests have been validated to the same high standard as accredited tests and are performed by the same trained and competent staff.

For further test information, please visit the test database: http://www.heftpathology.com/frontpage/test-database.html.

Protection of personal information - Laboratory Medicine comply with the Trust Data Protection policy and have procedures in place to allow the Directorate and its employees to comply with the Data Protection act  1998 and associated best practice and guidance.

For further information contact Louise Fallon, Quality Manager, 0121 424 1235