Preeclampsia is a multisystem disorder characterized by hypertension and proteinuria and occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Preeclampsia is associated with substantial risks for the mother and the fetus. The fetus is at risk for intrauterine growth restriction, death and prematurity, whereas the mother is at risk for seizures (eclampsia), renal failure, pulmonary edema, stroke, and death. (Solomon, NEJM, 2004). However, the clinical findings in patients with preeclampsia are relatively nonspecific, and while a renal biopsy might clarify whether changes are due to preeclampsia or some other renal disease, there is understandable reluctance to perform a renal biopsy during pregnancy. As a result, there is a tendency to ascribe all new-onset renal disease during pregnancy to preeclampsia.
Teaching topics from the New England Journal of Medicine - Vol. 358, No. 3, January 17, 2008