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New Potential Approach to Treating Postpartum Hemorrhage


ST. LOUIS – SLUCare obstetricians are leading a clinical trial at SSM
Health St. Mary’s Hospital that investigates a possible approach to treat postpartum hemorrhage, the leading cause of perinatal maternal death around the world. 

Gilad Gross, M.D.

Gilad Gross, M.D., is a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and women's health at Saint Louis University School of Medicine and principal investigator of the study.

The research is being conducted at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital, the first of eight clinical sites to test the InPress Postpartum Hemorrhage Intrauterine device.

“The potential benefits of the InPress device are numerous,” said Gilad Gross, M.D., director of the maternal-fetal medicine division at Saint Louis University School of Medicine and principal investigator of the study. “It mimics the body's physiologic response to halt bleeding following childbirth healing without the need for medications, hysterectomy or other surgical procedures.”

“If successful, this treatment approach could significantly reduce the cost of care and has the potential to reduce the risk of hysterectomy or death,” said Gross, who also is a SLUCare physician.

Postpartum hemorrhage is excessive bleeding in a mother after childbirth. In 80 percent of incidents, postpartum hemorrhage occurs when the uterus fails to contract following childbirth. With the blood vessels left fully dilated, heavy blood loss can occur quickly.

In these cases, the first line of treatment is typically oxytocin – a medication that helps the uterus contract. If the bleeding continues, treatment options include additional medications, an intrauterine balloon, which inflates within the uterus putting pressure on bleeding vessels; uterine artery embolization, which blocks blood supply to the uterus; and hysterectomy. These treatments are time consuming and combined with additional surgery can lead to life threatening blood loss.

The InPress device works differently. The vacuum-powered device assists the body’s natural response after childbirth by gently contracting the uterus which promotes cessation of blood loss. The single-use silicone device is inserted into the uterus and attached to vacuum suction readily available in hospital rooms.

A small, 10 person trial was conducted in Indonesia in 2014 and 2015. In each case, the InPress device quickly stopped the hemorrhage, usually in a matter of minutes. 

“If this trial is successful, it could change the way postpartum hemorrhage is treated around the world and potentially save many lives, especially in developing countries where the risk of death is greater,” Gross said.

The postpartum hemorrhage intrauterine device is made by InPress Technologies, a startup medical device company created by two biomedical engineers from California Polytechnic State University. InPress Technologies was a company-in-residence at the Fogarty Institute for Innovation, which serves as a catalyst for medical device innovation.

Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first medical degree west of the Mississippi River. The school educates physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health care on a local, national and international level. Research at the school seeks new cures and treatments in five key areas: infectious disease, liver disease, cancer, heart/lung disease, and aging and brain disorders.

SLUCare Physician Group is the academic medical practice of Saint Louis University, with more than 500 health care providers and 1,200 staff members in hospitals and medical offices throughout the St. Louis region.

SSM Health is a Catholic, not-for-profit health system serving the comprehensive health needs of communities across the Midwest through one of the largest integrated delivery systems in the nation.

SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital – St. Louis is a 525-bed hospital specializing in high-risk obstetrics. A teaching hospital, St. Mary’s is home to an accredited internal medicine residency program and to Saint Louis University School of Medicine Obstetrics/Gynecology and Family Practice residency programs.