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Keywords:

  • Three-Dimensional Ultrasonography;
  • Fetus;
  • Liver Volume

Abstract

Objective

To establish the application of three-dimensional ultrasonography in measuring fetal liver volume during the second half of normal pregnancy.

Design

A prospective cross-sectional study of normal fetal liver volume at 19–39 weeks of gestation (median 29 weeks).

Subjects

Thirty-four non-smoking women with a singleton pregnancy resulting in the delivery of a healthy infant with a birth weight between the 5th and 95th centiles according to the Kloosterman tables adjusted for maternal parity and fetal sex.

Methods

For fetal liver volume measurements, a simultaneous recording of a frontal section of the liver immediately anterior to the stomach and a sagittal section of the liver were obtained using a standard Combison 530 ultrasound machine with a 5-MHz annular array transducer for volume scanning.

Results

Technically acceptable fetal liver volume measurements were obtained in 25 of 34 participating women. Mean fetal liver volume data (P50) ranged between 8 ml at 20 weeks' gestation and 116 ml at 38 weeks' gestation. A statistically significant increase in normal fetal liver volume was found with advancing gestational age (p < 0.0001) and with increasing estimated fetal weight (p < 0.0001).

Conclusions

Three-dimensional ultrasound allows measurement of fetal liver volume, and this demonstrated an approximately 14-fold increase during the second half of pregnancy. It is speculated that three-dimensional fetal liver volume measurement may identify the fetus at risk of growth restriction. Copyright © 1998 International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology