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Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Jan;33(1):39-43. doi: 10.1002/uog.6278.

Monitoring of fetuses with intrauterine growth restriction: longitudinal changes in ductus venosus and aortic isthmus flow.

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Maternal-Fetal Medicine Department, Hospital Clinic, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.



To explore in growth-restricted fetuses the sequence of changes in aortic isthmus and ductus venosus blood flow in relation to other arterial Doppler parameters commonly used to evaluate fetal wellbeing.


Umbilical and middle cerebral arteries, ductus venosus and aortic isthmus were explored serially by means of pulsed Doppler in a cohort of singleton small-for-gestational age fetuses requiring delivery before 34 weeks. Longitudinal changes in the last 30 days before delivery were modeled by multilevel analysis. Individual regression lines for each variable were calculated for each fetus and from these the regression lines for the whole group were derived, in order to estimate the mean time point at which each Doppler parameter became abnormal (outside the 5th-95th centile range). A survival analysis was performed during the monitoring period, in which the endpoint was an abnormal Doppler pulsatility index.


A total of 162 observations were performed on 46 fetuses (median, 3; range, 2-10). The median gestational age at inclusion was 28.9 (range, 23.6-33.4) weeks and delivery occurred at a median gestational age of 30.5 (range, 25.9-33.9) weeks. Six (13%) cases of perinatal mortality occurred. Umbilical and middle cerebral artery Doppler showed an almost linear deterioration throughout monitoring, becoming abnormal on average 24 days and 20 days before delivery, respectively. Aortic isthmus Doppler became abnormal on average 13 days before delivery, while ductus venosus Doppler did so within the last week before delivery.


In preterm growth-restricted fetuses, aortic isthmus blood flow becomes abnormal on average 1 week earlier than does that in the ductus venosus. This could provide a sound basis to better define management protocols aimed to improve intact fetal survival.

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