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What Is Funisitis?

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  • Written By: Andy Josiah
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 15 November 2016
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Funisitis is an inflammatory condition of the umbilical cord's connective tissue. It is named after the clinical term for the umbilical cord, which is funiculus umbilicalis. According to medical researchers, the condition might be caused by an inflammation of the fetal membranes, which in turn is caused by a bacterial infection. Funisitis, however, is a rather rare and obscure condition.

Vasculitis usually precedes funisitis. The term "vasculitis" is given to a category of diseases defined by inflammation and consequent destruction of blood vessels. Vasculitis typically affects the arteries and veins.

Infection of each type of blood vessel is subcategorized. Inflammation of the arteries is referred to as arteritis while inflammation of the veins is called phlebitis. Regarding the umbilical cord, vasculitis affects the umbilical artery and the umbilical vein.

The umbilical cord is particularly important because it functions as the connector between the baby in its developing, fetal stage in the womb, or uterus, with the placenta. This is the organ that connects the fetus with the walls of the uterus for uptake of nutrients, elimination of waste and exchange of gases using the pregnant woman's blood supply. The umbilical arteries and veins are specifically involved in the regulation of the fetus' blood supply.

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Nutrients sent to the fetus are coordinated by these specialized blood vessels. The umbilical veins transport oxygenated blood from the placenta so that the fetus can extract the nutrients. The umbilical arteries then return the nutrient-depleted, deoxygenated blood from the developing baby to the placenta.

Thus, funisitis compromises the aforementioned functions via inflammation. The condition may be an indicator of a more encompassing problem called chorioamnionitis. This inflammatory condition, caused by a bacterial infection, is named after chorion and amnion, which are fetal membranes that come into existence to form a barrier or protective covering between the fetus and the woman bearing it. The chorion functions as the outer membrane while the amnion plays the role of the inner membrane.

The standard treatment for funisitis is antibiotic therapy. Typical medications used include ampicillin, gentamicin and clindamycin. Newly born infants with risks of organ system failure are transported to neonatal intensive care units for further attention. In more extreme cases, necrotizing funisitis might be involved. This is a severe form of the condition, which concerns the actual death of the umbilical cord's connective tissue and is usually linked with congenital syphilis.

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