The placental circulation brings into close relationship,: the maternal and the fetal. The supply of blood to the placenta is influenced by various factors, especially by the arterial blood pressure, uterine contractions, tobacco abuse, medications and hormones. Placental blood flow is increased at term and amounts to 500 ml/min (80% of the uterine perfusion).
Fetal and maternal blood circulation systems
The fetal circulation system
The villus capillaries are branches of the umbilical vessels. Fetal blood comes via the two Aa. umbilicales in the villi and leaves the placenta through a single navel vein, the vena umbilicalis. Their supply amounts to approximately 40% of the fetal heart blood volume per minute.
The blood pressure in the arteria umbilicalis amounts to 50 mmHg and the blood flows through finer vessels that cross through the chorionic plate to the capillaries in the villi where the arterial blood pressure falls to 30 mmHg. In the umbilical vein the pressure is 20 mm Hg. The pressure in the fetal vessels and their villus branches always lies over that of the intervillous space. This protects the fetal vessels from collapse ( ).
The maternal circulation system
During the pregnancy the
Via the spiral arteries (80 -100 mm Hg) that come from the uterine arteries (Aa. uterinae), maternal blood gets into the intervillous spaces in a region delimited by the anchoring villi. Subsequently the blood leaves the intervillous spaces via the uterine veins that are arranged in the periphery of the intervillous space.
The flow of the placental blood amounts to 600 cm3/min and the pressure in the spiral arteries to 70 mm Hg. In the intervillous spaces the pressure falls to only 10 mm Hg .The blood in the intervillous space is exchanged 2-3 times per minute.