Journal of the European Society for Gynaecological Endoscopy


‘Maternal Intensive Care’: a systematic literature review

A.S. Van Parys, H. Verstraelen, K. Roelens, M. Temmerman

From the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University Hospital.

Correspondence at: An-Sofie Van Parys, RM, MSc, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and International Centre for Reproductive Health, De Pintelaan 185, 0P3, 9000 Ghent, Belgium.


maternal/obstetric intensive care, intermediate care, high risk obstetric service/unit, maternal mortality/ morbidity, pregnancy complication

Published online: Oct 05 2010


Objective: The objective of this systematic literature review is to review current scientific knowledge on the definition of and the indications for maternal/obstetric intensive care (MIC). Methods: We conducted a extensive search in OVID MEDLINE, EMBASE, COCHRANE, CINHAL and CEBAM using the keywords: maternal/obstetric intensive care, subacute care, intermediate care, postacute care, critical care, sub intensive care, progressive patient care, postnatal care, perinatal care, obstetrical nursing, neonatology, pregnancy, maternal mortality/morbidity and pregnancy complication. A total of 180 articles and one guideline were identified and supplemented by a hand search. After title, abstract and full text evaluation, the articles and guideline were subjected to critical appraisal.

Results: Out of 180 potentially relevant articles, we identified 44 eligible articles of which 14 relevant MIC-articles of relatively good quality were selected. The concept ‘maternal intensive care’ was not found elsewhere, “high-dependency care” and “obstetrical intermediate care” appeared to be best comparable to what is understood as a MIC-service in Belgium. This thorough literature search resulted in a limited amount of scientific literature, with most studies retro- spective observational tertiary centre based. No clear definition and admission criteria for maternal intensive care were found.

Conclusion: This systematic literature review revealed that 1) there is no standard definition of maternal intensive care and 2) that admission criteria to a MIC unit differ widely. Further research is needed to create an evidence-based triage system to help clinicians attribute women to the appropriate level of care and thus stimulate an efficient utilization of maternal/obstetric intensive care services.