Relationship between arterial and venous Doppler and perinatal outcome in fetal growth restriction




The aim of this investigation was to assess the relationship between abnormal arterial and venous Doppler findings and perinatal outcome in fetuses with intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR).


Doppler velocimetry of the umbilical artery (UA), middle cerebral artery (MCA), inferior vena cava (IVC), ductus venosus (DV) and free umbilical vein was performed in 121 IUGR fetuses with a UA pulsatility index (PI) > 2SD above the gestational age mean and subsequent birth weight < 10th centile for gestational age. Groups based on the last Doppler exam were: 1 = abnormal UA-PI only (n = 42, 34.7%), 2 = MCA-PI > 2SD below the gestational age mean (= ‘brain sparing’) in addition to abnormal UA-PI (n = 29, 24.0%), 3 = DV or IVC peak velocity index (PVIV) > 2SD above the gestational age mean and/or pulsatile UV flow (n = 50, 41.3%). Z-scores (delta indices) were calculated for Doppler indices. Perinatal mortality, respiratory distress (RDS), bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH), necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), circulatory failure and umbilical artery blood gases were recorded.


Absence or reversal of umbilical artery end-diastolic flow was observed in 4 (9.5%) of fetuses in group 1, 10 (34.5%) fetuses in group 2 and 41 (82%) fetuses in group 3. A low middle cerebral artery pulsatility index was found in 39 (78%) fetuses in group 3. Multiple regression analysis with gestational age at delivery, delta indices and cord artery blood gas as independent parameters and individual perinatal outcomes as dependent variables was performed. In this analysis the association was strongest with gestational age for each complication. There were no significant differences in Apgar scores between groups. At delivery, ‘brain sparing’ was associated with hypoxemia and abnormal venous flows with acidemia. Perinatal mortality was highest in group 3 and stillbirth was only observed when venous flow was abnormal. All postpartum complications were more frequent in fetuses with abnormal venous flows. The only statistically significant relation between Doppler indices and outcome was the association between abnormal ductus venosus flow and fetal death (r2 = 0.24, P < 0.05).


Growth restricted fetuses with abnormal venous flow have worse perinatal outcome compared to those where flow abnormality is confined to the umbilical or middle cerebral artery. In fetuses with low middle cerebral artery pulsatility, venous Doppler allows detection of further deterioration. While abnormal venous flows can be significantly associated with fetal demise, gestational age at delivery significantly impacts on all short-term outcomes. Copyright © 2000 International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology