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Placenta. 2001 May;22(5):405-11.

Uterine artery Doppler flow and uteroplacental vascular pathology in normal pregnancies and pregnancies complicated by pre-eclampsia and small for gestational age fetuses.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Division of Obstetrics and Perinatal Medicine, University Hospital, Groningen, The Netherlands.


This study was conducted to investigate the association between uterine artery Doppler flow patterns and uteroplacental vascular pathology in normal and complicated pregnancies in view of the recently described concept of heterogeneous causes of hypertensive pregnancy complications. Forty-three women whose pregnancies were complicated by pre-eclampsia, the HELLP (Haemolysis, Elevated Liver enzymes, Low Platelets) syndrome and/or small for gestational age (SGA) fetuses and 27 women with normal pregnancies undergoing elective caesarean section were included. We obtained uterine artery Doppler waveforms at a mean of 4 days before delivery. Placental bed biopsies were obtained at caesarean section and analysed for physiological changes and pathological changes. We found that abnormal uterine artery Doppler flow was strongly associated with pregnancy complications. Absence of physiological changes was seen in 58 per cent of complicated pregnancies and 40 per cent of normal pregnancies. Pathological changes were seen in 58 per cent of complicated pregnancies and 53 per cent of normal pregnancies; they occurred in spiral arteries with and without physiological changes, and there was no significant correlation to Doppler results. In conclusion, absence of physiological changes is associated with abnormal uterine artery Doppler flow and pregnancy complications. However, there is a gradient in the severity of uteroplacental vascular pathology and the correlation with pregnancy complications is not as strong as previously thought. There is also a significant degree of uteroplacental vascular pathology in normal pregnancies with normal uterine artery Doppler flow. This variation may be partly due to sampling error, as a typical biopsy contains only one or two spiral arteries. We hypothesize that additional factors might be necessary to induce the clinical syndrome of pre-eclampsia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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