AskDefine | Define eclampsia

Dictionary Definition

eclampsia n : a toxic condition characterized by convulsions and possibly coma during or immediately after pregnancy

User Contributed Dictionary



Coined Greek, from ecto-, 'out of', and lampein, 'to shine'.


  1. A complication of pregnancy characterized by convulsions and coma. See preeclampsia.

Extensive Definition

Eclampsia is a serious complication of pregnancy and is characterised by convulsions. Usually eclampsia occurs after the onset of pre-eclampsia though sometimes no pre-eclamptic symptoms are recognisable. The convulsions may appear before, during or after labour, though cases of eclampsia after just 20 weeks of pregnancy have been recorded.


The pathogenesis of eclampsia is poorly understood.

Signs and symptoms

The majority of cases are heralded by pregnancy-induced hypertension and proteinuria but the only true sign of eclampsia is an eclamptic convulsion, of which there are four stages. Patients with edema and oliguria may develop renal failure or pulmonary edema. ;Tonic stage: soon after the premonitory stage the twitching turns into clenching. Sometimes the woman may bite her tongue as she clenches her teeth, while the arms and legs go rigid. The respiratory muscles also spasm, causing the woman to stop breathing, leading to cyanosis. This stage continues for around 30 seconds.;Comatose stage: the woman falls deeply unconscious, breathing noisily. This can last only a few minutes or may persist for hours.


Eclampsia is usually treated well in the majority of cases with just under one in 50 affected women and one in 14 fetuses of affected women developing complications.


The treatment of seizures in eclampsia consists of:
  • Prevention of convulsion
  • Control the blood pressure
  • Delivery of fetus
Prevention of convulsion is usually done using magnesium sulfate with a loading of Magnesium sulfate 20% solution, 4 g IV over 5 minutes. Then maintain with 1 g magnesium sulfate (10%solution) in 1000 ml fluid drip 1g/hr.
The blood pressure may be controlled by hydralazine 5 mg IV slowly every 5 minutes until blood pressure is lowered. Repeat hourly as needed or give hydralazine 12.5 mg IM every 2 hours as needed.
Delivery should take place as soon as the woman’s condition has stabilized. Delaying delivery to increase fetal maturity is unsafe for both the woman and the fetus, after delivery the womans health relative to the condition is improved drastically. Delivery should occur regardless of the gestational age.
In severe pre-eclampsia, delivery should occur within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms. In eclampsia, delivery should occur within 12 hours of the onset of convulsions. If vaginal delivery is not anticipated within 12 hours (for eclampsia) or 24 hours (for severe pre-eclampsia), deliver by caesarean section.


  • Mayes, M., Sweet, B. R. & Tiran, D. (1997). Mayes' Midwifery - A Textbook for Midwives 12th Edition, pp. 533–545. Baillière Tindall. ISBN 0-7020-1757-4
eclampsia in German: Eklampsie
eclampsia in Spanish: Eclampsia
eclampsia in French: Éclampsie
eclampsia in Italian: Eclampsia
eclampsia in Urdu: ارتِعاج
eclampsia in Hebrew: אקלמפסיה (כלבות)
eclampsia in Newari: इक्लेम्प्सिया
eclampsia in Japanese: 子癇
eclampsia in Portuguese: Eclampsia
eclampsia in Swedish: Graviditetskramp
eclampsia in Ukrainian: Еклампсія

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Jacksonian epilepsy, Rolandic epilepsy, abdominal epilepsy, access, acquired epilepsy, activated epilepsy, affect epilepsy, akinetic epilepsy, apoplexy, arrest, attack, autonomic epilepsy, blockage, cardiac epilepsy, clonic spasm, clonus, convulsion, cortical epilepsy, cramp, cursive epilepsy, diurnal epilepsy, epilepsia, epilepsia gravior, epilepsia major, epilepsia minor, epilepsia mitior, epilepsia nutans, epilepsia tarda, epilepsy, epitasis, falling sickness, fit, focal epilepsy, frenzy, grand mal, grip, haute mal, hysterical epilepsy, ictus, larval epilepsy, laryngeal epilepsy, laryngospasm, latent epilepsy, lockjaw, matutinal epilepsy, menstrual epilepsy, musicogenic epilepsy, myoclonous epilepsy, nocturnal epilepsy, occlusion, orgasm, paroxysm, petit mal, physiologic epilepsy, psychic epilepsy, psychomotor epilepsy, reflex epilepsy, rotatoria, seizure, sensory epilepsy, serial epilepsy, sexual climax, spasm, stoppage, stroke, tardy epilepsy, tetanus, tetany, throes, thromboembolism, thrombosis, tonic epilepsy, tonic spasm, torsion spasm, traumatic epilepsy, trismus, ucinate epilepsy, visitation
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