The single most available surgical specimen, the placenta, is the least well studied and its changes are very poorly understood, Kurt Benirschke, MD, told 300 physicians attending a one-day Symposium on the Placenta.
The Symposium, sponsored by The National Foundation, was held in New York City, March 6.
Speaking on the major pathological features of the placenta, cord, and membranes, Benirschke pointed out that the placenta's rapid evolution and short life span make it difficult to evaluate. Some changes may simply represent a physiological aging of the organ, he said, and certain lesions which are clearly pathologic in some systems—such as infarction or atrophy —can be normal in the placenta.
In an attempt to clarify the understanding of the placenta, Benirschke (who is chairman of the Department of Pathology at Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, NH) extensively studied and analyzed the findings from a series of 250 consecutive twin placentas—77 monochorionic