Utero-placental Doppler ultrasound for improving pregnancy outcome

  • Stampalija T
  • Gyte G
  • Alfirevic Z
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BACKGROUND: Impaired placentation can cause some of the most important obstetrical complications such as pre-eclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction and has been linked to increased fetal morbidity and mortality. The failure to undergo physiological trophoblastic vascular changes is reflected by the high impedance to the blood flow at the level of the uterine arteries. Doppler ultrasound study of utero-placental blood vessels, using waveform indices or notching, may help to identify the 'at-risk' women in the first and second trimester of pregnancy, such that interventions might be used to reduce maternal and fetal morbidity and/or mortality. OBJECTIVES: To assess the effects on pregnancy outcome, and obstetric practice, of routine utero-placental Doppler ultrasound in first and second trimester of pregnancy in pregnant women at high and low risk of hypertensive complications. SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (June 2010) and the reference lists of identified studies. SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised and quasi-randomised controlled trials of Doppler ultrasound for the investigation of utero-placental vessel waveforms in first and second trimester compared with no Doppler ultrasound. We have excluded studies where uterine vessels have been assessed together with fetal and umbilical vessels. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two authors independently assessed the studies for inclusion, assessed risk of bias and carried out data extraction. We checked data entry. MAIN RESULTS: We found two studies involving 4993 participants. The methodological quality of the trials was good. Both studies included women at low risk for hypertensive disorders, with Doppler ultrasound of the uterine arteries performed in the second trimester of pregnancy. In both studies, pathological finding of uterine arteries was followed by low-dose aspirin administration.We identified no difference in short-term maternal and fetal clinical outcomes.We identified no randomised studies assessing the utero-placental vessels in the first trimester or in women at high risk for hypertensive disorders. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Present evidence failed to show any benefit to either the baby or the mother when utero-placental Doppler ultrasound was used in the second trimester of pregnancy in women at low risk for hypertensive disorders. Nevertheless, this evidence cannot be considered conclusive with only two studies included. There were no randomised studies in the first trimester, or in women at high risk. More research is needed to investigate whether the use of utero-placental Doppler ultrasound may improve pregnancy outcome.




Stampalija, T., Gyte, G. M., & Alfirevic, Z. (2010). Utero-placental Doppler ultrasound for improving pregnancy outcome. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.cd008363.pub2

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