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Obstet Gynecol. 1992 Dec;80(6):1000-6.

Quantitative estimation of human uterine artery blood flow and pelvic blood flow redistribution in pregnancy.

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Department of Anesthesiology, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver.



To determine the contributions of uterine artery diameter and mean flow velocity to the increase in volumetric flow during human pregnancy.


Volunteers (18 pregnant and six not pregnant) were studied using both a commercially available Doppler instrument with imaging ultrasound and an improved Doppler instrument with software that can determine instantaneous true mean blood flow velocity. Diameter and mean flow velocity measurements were combined to yield volumetric flows in the common iliac, external iliac, and uterine arteries during and after pregnancy.


Compared with the nonpregnant state, uterine artery diameter doubled by week 21 (from 1.4 +/- 0.1 to 2.8 +/- 0.2 mm; P < .05), did not change between weeks 21 and 30 (2.9 +/- 0.1 mm), and increased between weeks 30 and 36 (to 3.4 +/- 0.2 mm). Uterine artery mean flow velocity rose progressively from nonpregnant values to attain at week 36 a velocity nearly eight times faster (8.4 +/- 2.2 versus 61.4 +/- 3.0 cm/second; P < .05). Unilateral uterine artery blood flow at week 36 was 312 +/- 22 mL/minute.


Compared with nonpregnant values, common iliac artery flow increased and external iliac artery flow decreased during pregnancy, suggesting that redistribution of pelvic flow to favor the uterus contributed to the pregnancy-associated rise in uterus artery flow. Early in pregnancy, the increase in uterine artery blood flow was due in equal parts to changes in uterine artery diameter and mean flow velocity, whereas late in pregnancy, the rise was due mainly to faster mean flow velocity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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