Fetal death in utero

Last revised by Karen Machang'a on 26 Sep 2023

Fetal death in utero (FDIU), also known as intrauterine death (IUD), is the term used when the death of a fetus occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy. Prior to this, it is considered a miscarriage.

IUD is often also used as an abbreviation for an intrauterine contraceptive device. However, this shortening is disliked by some specialists in view of its use as an abbreviation for intrauterine death. Therefore for many the preferred abbreviation for an intrauterine contraceptive device is IUCD. 

The spelling fetus and fetal are the preferred spellings in the medical world, regardless of location. They are used by virtually all biomedical journals. Therefore they are also the preferred spelling on Radiopaedia and we never use the spelling foetus or foetal (see fetus vs foetus for more detail) 3.

1% of normal, uncomplicated pregnancies end in fetal death. In ~15% of fetal death in utero, no cause is identified.

Placental pathologies are thought represent the largest category of cause of intrauterine death 4.

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