EDITORIAL COMMENT: We accepted this paper for publication because the authors have explored the possible value of ultrasound versus clinical assessment of fetal size to see whether they can predict the need for Caesarean section when the baby is large. In this study both the ultrasound and the clinical assessment were impressively accurate and fetal femur length was the most accurate of the ultrasound parameters in assessing fetal weight in predicting the need for Caesarean section. However, as the authors indicate, none of these methods of assessment of fetal size are recommended as an absolute indication for Caesarean section. Every obstetrician uses clinical assessment of the fetus when evaluating management of the patient but the need for clinical judgment remains.
Summary: One hundred and five women with singleton pregnancies and cephalic presentation were assessed. Fundal height and a clinical estimate of fetal weight were recorded. The fetal biparietal diameter, abdominal circumference and femur length were measured with ultrasound. Ultrasound estimated fetal weight was calculated using 3 different formulas (Shepard, Campbell and CUHK). The liquor volume was assessed using the amniotic fluid index.
Ultrasound was able to predict Caesarean section with more reliability than clinical assessment of fetal size or weight. The biparietal diameter, fundal height and amniotic fluid index were poor predictors of mode of delivery. The measurements which best predicted the mode of delivery were the fetal femur length and abdominal circumference. Femur length, but not abdominal circumference, was a statistically better predictor of Caesarean section than clinical estimation of fetal weight. There was no improvement in prediction using ultrasound estimated fetal weight.