• Nuchal translucency;
  • Fetal outcome;
  • Cardiac dysfunction;
  • Cardiac defect;
  • Ductus venosus flow;
  • Chromosomal anomalies



To investigate, in a high-risk group of fetuses, the role of ductus venosus Doppler velocimetry as a prognostic factor, in addition to nuchal translucency measurement, for predicting chromosomal anomalies and, where the karyotype was normal, for predicting fetal outcome.


Nuchal translucency was measured and ductus venosus pulsatility index and late diastolic flow (a-wave) were recorded in 186 fetuses at a median gestational age of 12.6 weeks (range, 10–17). Fetal karyotype, the presence of structural anomalies, pregnancy outcome, neonatal examination at birth and postnatal follow up were the outcome values.


Nuchal translucency measurement was increased in 112 fetuses. The outcome of pregnancy was normal in 130 fetuses. Fifty-six fetuses had an adverse outcome (46 chromosomal anomalies, three intrauterine deaths, six structural anomalies and one developmental disorder). The sensitivity of an abnormal ductus venosus pulsatility index or of absent or reversed flow during the a-wave was 65% for chromosomal anomalies and 68% for an adverse outcome. The specificity was 79%. There was a significant correlation between nuchal translucency and ductus venosus pulsatility index. In chromosomally normal fetuses with an enlarged nuchal translucency an abnormal ductus venosus flow was associated with a nearly nine-fold increase in adverse outcome (odds ratio 11.7).


Ductus venosus Doppler velocimetry can be used in addition to nuchal translucency measurement as a predictor of chromosomal anomalies. However, as the ductus venosus blood flow pattern is correlated with nuchal translucency measurement it cannot be used as an independent variable to reduce the indication for fetal karyotyping. Ductus venosus Doppler velocimetry may have a role in the counseling of parents in the case of an enlarged nuchal translucency and normal karyotype by identifying those fetuses in need of an intensive follow up due to an increased risk of adverse outcome. Copyright © 2001 International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology