Several serious complications may develop as a result of postpartum endometritis, including infections of the bloodstream (bacteremia), infection and thrombosis of the pelvic blood vessels (septic pelvic vein thrombophlebitis), pelvic abscess, and septic shock. These complications are caused when bacteria invade normally sterile parts of the body (for example, the bloodstream or the pelvis). Once the bacteria have invaded these sterile areas, they multiply rapidly and can cause serious infection. Prompt diagnosis and aggressive treatment is essential to prevent these complications.
Septic pelvic vein thrombophlebitis, a condition in which blood clots in one or more of the pelvic vessels become infected, is a rare infection that can follow postpartum endometritis. Uterine infections allow bacteria to get into the venous circulation. Once in the bloodstream, bacteria can damage the lining of the blood vessels and initiate clot formation. Septic pelvic vein thrombophlebitis can lead to an abscess in the pelvis, as well as septic pulmonary embolization, in which infected blood clots travel from the pelvic vessels to the vessels in the lung and can lead to death.
Septic shock is a severe systemic infection usually caused by bacteria and sometimes follows postpartum endometritis. Bacteria invade the bloodstream and release a substance known as endotoxin, which causes decreased blood pressure, clot formation, major tissue injury, and leakage of fluids. As a result, many organs fail because they are not receiving enough blood and nutrients. This is a serious complication but, fortunately, it is not common.
Even if you do not experience complications of postpartum endometritis, your doctor will monitor your condition.