• Cardiac output;
  • pregnancy;
  • uterine artery blood flow

Please cite this paper as: Flo K, Wilsgaard T, Vårtun Å, Acharya G. A longitudinal study of the relationship between maternal cardiac output measured by impedance cardiography and uterine artery blood flow in the second half of pregnancy. BJOG 2010;117:837–844.

Objective  To study serial changes in maternal systemic and uterine artery haemodynamics and establish reference ranges for the second half of pregnancy.

Design  Prospective longitudinal observational study.

Setting  University hospital in Norway.

Population  Low-risk pregnant women.

Methods  Fifty-three low-risk pregnancies were evaluated at approximately 4-weekly intervals. Maternal systemic haemodynamics was assessed with impedance cardiography. Uterine artery blood velocity and diameter were measured using Doppler ultrasonography and uterine artery volume blood flow (Quta) was calculated as the product of mean velocity and cross-sectional area of the uterine artery. The fraction of cardiac output (CO) distributed to the uterine circulation was calculated as: Quta/CO × 100.

Main outcome measures  CO, Quta, uterine vascular resistance (Ruta) and the fraction of CO distributed to the uterine circulation.

Results  The CO increased (P = 0.0063) until 34 weeks and remained stable until term. Total Quta increased from 299 to 673 ml/minute and Ruta halved from 0.26 to 0.13 mmHg/ml/minute (P < 0.0001). The fraction of CO distributed to the uterine circulation increased from 5.6% to 11.7% (< 0.0001).

Conclusion  During the second half of pregnancy, Quta and the fraction of maternal CO distributed to the uterine circulation increase approximately two-fold, mainly as a result of decrease in Ruta.