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Trop Med Int Health. 2019 Jun 7. doi: 10.1111/tmi.13276. [Epub ahead of print]

Point of care ultrasound: does the presence of ascites in severe pre-eclampsia correlate with poor maternal and neonatal outcome?

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College of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Rwanda, Kigali, Rwanda.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Kigali, Kigali, Rwanda.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.



Ascites in severe pre-eclampsia may impact foetal and maternal outcomes. The objective was to determine the prevalence of ascites in women with severe pre-eclampsia by point of care (POC) ultrasound and to determine whether it correlates with higher perinatal risks.


Prospective cohort study of patients admitted with severe pre-eclampsia at 2 teaching hospitals in Kigali, Rwanda. Serial POC ultrasound was performed to document ascites. Patients were stratified by the presence of ascites in perinatal period. Maternal demographics and complications were recorded and compared between groups.


There were 112 patients with severe pre-eclampsia, and ascites was found in 53.5% (76.7% antepartum, and 23.3% postpartum). Antepartum ascites correlated with an earlier delivery (32.2 ± 0.51 vs. 33.8 ± 0.47 weeks, P = 0.022) as well as lower birthweight (1587.3 ± 77.03 vs. 2011.6 ± 103.5 g, P = 0.002). Antepartum ascites was associated with higher stillbirth rates (P = 0.034) and NICU admission (87.2% vs. 68%, P = 0.034). Maternal hospital stay was increased in the ascites group (P < 0.0001).


Ascites is common in severe pre-eclampsia in Rwanda and maybe a prognosticator for poor outcomes. A larger sample is necessary to determine whether ascites is independently associated with maternal morbidity and mortality and whether documenting its presence aids in the management of the foetus and mother.


ascites; point of care ultrasound; pre-eclampsia


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