Pulmonary means lungs and edema means swelling. It is a condition which is caused by excess fluid accumulation. This fluid collects in the numerous air sacs in the lungs, which makes difficult to breathe. In Norway the statistical analysis of pulmonary edema is resulted as about 70% of the cases develop before delivery, the majority between the 27th and 37th gestational weeks; the remainder within 48 hours after delivery. The HELLP syndrome may be complete or incomplete. In the Tennessee Classification System diagnostic criteria for HELLP are haemolysis with increased LDH (> 600 U/L), AST (≥ 70 U/L), and platelets < 100•109/L.
Vaginal delivery is preferable. If the cervix is unfavourable, it is reasonable to induce cervical ripening and then labour. In gestational ages between 24 and 34 weeks most authors prefer a single course of corticosteroid therapy for foetal lung maturation, either 2 doses of 12 mg betamethasone 24 hours apart or 6 mg or dexamethasone 12 hours apart before delivery.
The Mississippi Triple-class HELLP System further classifies the disorder by the nadir platelet counts. The syndrome is a progressive condition and serious complications are frequent. Conservative treatment (≥ 48 hours) is controversial but may be considered in selected cases < 34 weeks' gestation. Delivery is indicated if the HELLP syndrome occurs after the 34th gestational week or the foetal and/or maternal conditions deteriorate.