The incidence, aetiology, and mechanisms of spontaneous abortion are outlined. A simplified classification of products of conception specifically orientated for routine histopathological laboratories rather than research centres is presented. Its introduction should not in itself greatly increase the work load of a service laboratory already examining such material. Specific practical problems are discussed and these are related to the clinical situation. The importance is emphasised of proper examination of tissues from pregnancies aborting after diagnostic amniocentesis, as well as those from therapeutic terminations performed for fetal abnormality or disease. Special techniques are suggested for processing suspected procured abortions. Finally the value is stressed of routine examination of spontaneously aborted material in the current and future management of the patient, in the furtherance of our knowledge of fetal diseases and of some of the major contributory factors to perinatal morbidity and mortality.
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