Ventricular ejection force in growth-retarded fetuses



The objective of this study was to determine whether in growth-retarded fetuses secondary to uteroplacental insufficiency the cardiac ventricles exert a force different from that of appropriately grown fetuses. Doppler echocardiographic studies were performed in 1.56 appropriately grown fetuses (gestational age 18–38 weeks) and in 72 growth-retarded fetuses (gestational age 24–36 weeks) free from structural and chromosomal abnormalities and characterized by Doppler changes in the umbilical artery and middle cerebral artery suggesting uteroplacental insufficiency as the most likely etiology of the growth defect. Right and left ventricular ejection force values were calculated from velocity waveforms recorded at the level of aortic and pulmonary valves, according to Newton's second law of motion. In appropriately grown fetuses, left and right ventricular ejection force values significantly increased with advancing gestation and the two ventricles exerted similar force. In growth-retarded fetuses, the ventricular ejection force was significantly and symmetrically decreased in both ventricles. Among growth-retarded fetuses, a poorer perinatal outcome was observed in those fetuses in which the ejection force of both ventricles was below the 5th centile of the normal limits for gestation. In 12 growth-retarded fetuses followed longitudinally during the last week preceding intrauterine death or Cesarean section due to antepartum heart-rate late decelerations, a significant decrease of ejection force was found in both ventricles. Finally, a significant relationship was found between the severity of acidosis and right and left ventricular ejection force values in 22 fetuses in which Doppler recordings were performed immediately before cordocentesis. In conclusion, in growth-retarded fetuses the force exerted by the ventricles was symmetrically reduced and the degree of impairment seemed to be related to the severity of fetal compromise. Copyright © 1995 International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology