Research Article

Doppler studies in the growth retarded fetus and prediction of neonatal necrotising enterocolitis, haemorrhage, and neonatal morbidity.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987; 294 doi: (Published 03 January 1987) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987;294:13
  1. G A Hackett,
  2. S Campbell,
  3. H Gamsu,
  4. T Cohen-Overbeek,
  5. J M Pearce


    In 82 consecutive cases of intrauterine growth retardation managed by established criteria fetal Doppler studies identified 29 fetuses with absence of end diastolic frequencies in the fetal aorta. These same fetuses were significantly more growth retarded (p less than 0.001) and had an earlier gestational age at delivery (p less than 0.001) than those with end diastolic frequencies present. A subgroup of these cases was analysed in more detail to examine the prognostic value of this phenomenon for the neonate. Two groups of neonates of equivalent gestational age and with a birth weight below 2000 g were compared. There were 26 neonates with absent end diastolic frequencies (group 1) and 20 with end diastolic frequencies (group 2) in the fetal aorta. Those in group 1 were more likely to suffer perinatal death (p less than 0.05), necrotising enterocolitis (p less than 0.01), and haemorrhage (p less than 0.05). Only 4 (15%) of the babies in group 1 had an uncomplicated neonatal period compared with 15 (75%) in group 2 (p less than 0.001). The circulatory changes identified in these cases may provide a more sensitive measure of critical fetal compromise than current techniques and thus allow the clinician to deliver the fetus before irreversible tissue damage has occurred.