• Doppler;
  • fetal growth restriction;
  • interval to delivery;
  • longitudinal analysis;
  • middle cerebral artery



To study if the duration of individual Doppler abnormalities is an independent predictor of adverse outcome in fetal growth restriction (FGR) caused by placental dysfunction.


This was a secondary analysis of patients with FGR (abdominal circumference < 5th percentile and umbilical artery (UA) pulsatility index (PI) elevation) who had at least three examinations before delivery. Days of duration of absent/reversed UA end-diastolic velocity (UA-AREDV), low middle cerebral artery PI (brain sparing), ductus venosus (DV) and umbilical vein Doppler abnormalities were related to stillbirth, major neonatal morbidity and intact survival.


One hundred and seventy-seven study participants underwent a total of 1069 examinations. The duration of an absent/reversed a-wave in the DV (DV-RAV) was significantly higher in stillbirths (median, 6 days) compared with intact survivors and those with major morbidity (median, 0 days for both; P = 0.006 and P = 0.001, respectively). Duration of brain sparing was also longer in stillbirth cases compared with intact survivors (median, 19 days vs. 9 days, P = 0.02). Stepwise multinomial logistic regression showed that gestational age at delivery was a significant codeterminant of outcome for all arterial Doppler abnormalities when the DV a-wave was antegrade. However, when present, the duration of DV-RAV was the only contributor to stillbirth (probability of stillbirth = 1/(1 + exp − (interval to delivery × 1.03 − 2.28)), r2 = 0.73). Receiver–operating characteristics curve statistics showed that a DV-RAV for > 7 days predicted stillbirth (100% sensitivity, 80% specificity, likelihood ratio = 5.0, P < 0.0001). In contrast, neither neonatal death nor neonatal morbidity was predicted by the days of persistent DV-RAV.


The duration of absent or reversed flow during atrial systole in the DV is a strong predictor of stillbirth that is independent of gestational age. While prematurity remains the strongest predictor of neonatal risks it is unlikely that pregnancy can be prolonged by more than 1 week in this setting. Copyright © 2011 ISUOG. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.