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Revista Colombiana de Obstetricia y Ginecología

Print version ISSN 0034-7434On-line version ISSN 2463-0225


CAMACHO-MONTANO, Andrés Mauricio; NINO-ALBA, Reinaldo  and  PAEZ-CASTELLANOS, Edgar. Congenital syphilis with hydrops fetalis: report of four cases in a general referral hospital in Bogota, Colombia between 2016- 2020. Rev Colomb Obstet Ginecol [online]. 2021, vol.72, n.2, pp.149-161.  Epub June 30, 2021. ISSN 0034-7434.


To report four cases of hydrops fetalis secondary to congenital syphilis and carry out a review of the literature to answer the question, What is the antibiotic regimen used in cases of gestational syphilis with hydrops fetalis as a complication?

Materials and Methods:

Four cases of congenital syphilis with hydrops fetalis are presented. Maternal age ranged between 17 and 28 years, gestational age at the time of diagnosis varied between 25 and 30 weeks, and two of the mothers had not initiated prenatal care at that time. Treatment with crystalline penicillin for gestational syphilis was given immediately 6 to 12 weeks before delivery in three cases and partners were prescribed treatment with benzathine penicillin. As for the neonates, two had no active infection or sequelae and one of them was considered to have congenital syphilis based on non-treponemal test titers. In one case, the patient was unable to receive syphilis treatment before delivery and her newborn had signs of active infection. A review of the literature was conducted in the Medline, LILACS and Google Scholar databases using the search terms “hydrops fetalis,” “Lues”, “syphilis - prenatal diagnosis - ultrasound - penicillin - treatment”. The search included case reports and case series or cohorts of newborns with gestational syphilis and hydrops fetalis. Information regarding treatment in the mothers and in the newborns was extracted.


Overall, 119 articles were identified. Of these, 13 met the inclusion criteria, three were discarded because the full text could not be accessed. Ten studies with a total of 16 reported cases of hydrops fetalis secondary to congenital infection were reported. Of these, three presented with severe fetal anemia and required intrauterine transfusion; 5 cases received intrauterine penicillin treatment. In four cases the mother received weekly intramuscular injections of benzathine penicillin for 3 weeks, one received additional intravenous crystalline penicillin for 13 days, while another one received intravenous crystalline penicillin for 14 days. Treatment during gestation was not given in a total of 11 cases; and 6 of the 16 cases (37.5%) resulted in perinatal death.


Delays in prenatal care and late diagnosis and treatment of gestational syphilis are important causes of persistent congenital syphilis. Randomized studies are required to identify the best treatment in fetuses with congenital syphilis 30 days before delivery and in fetuses with systemic compromise during the second half of gestation.

Keywords : Hydrops fetalis; Syphilis; Congenital syphilis.

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