Considering the Effects and Maternofoetal Implications of Vascular Disorders and the Umbilical Cord

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The umbilical cord is a critical anatomical structure connecting the placenta with the foetus, fulfilling multiple functions during pregnancy and hence influencing foetal development, programming and survival. Histologically, the umbilical cord is composed of three blood vessels: two arteries and one vein, integrated in a mucous connective tissue (Wharton’s jelly) upholstered by a layer of amniotic coating. Vascular alterations in the umbilical cord or damage in this tissue because of other vascular disorders during pregnancy are worryingly related with detrimental maternofoetal consequences. In the present work, we will describe the main vascular alterations presented in the umbilical cord, both in the arteries (Single umbilical artery, hypoplastic umbilical artery or aneurysms in umbilical arteries) and the vein (Vascular thrombosis, aneurysms or varicose veins in the umbilical vein), together with other possible complications (Velamentous insertion, vasa praevia, hypercoiled or hypocoiled cord, angiomyxoma and haematomas). Likewise, the effect of the main obstetric vascular disorders like hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (specially pre-eclampsia) and chronic venous disease on the umbilical cord will also be summarized herein.