Longitudinal assessment of spiral artery and intravillous arteriole blood flow and adverse pregnancy outcome

A. O. Odibo, U. Kayisli, Y. Lu, O. Kayisli, F. Schatz, L. Odibo, H. Chen, R. Bronsteen, C. J. Lockwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objective: Superb microvascular imaging (SMI) has been shown to improve visualization of small vessels by suppressing global motions while preserving low-flow components, such as the microvessels in the placenta. We sought to determine if SMI-aided visualization of flow velocity waveforms in the spiral arteries (SA) and intravillous fetal arterioles (IVA) could predict fetal growth restriction (FGR), gestational hypertension (GH) and/or pre-eclampsia (PE). Methods: This was a prospective longitudinal study of singleton pregnancies without fetal anomaly, receiving prenatal care in one of two medical centers over a 5-year period. Using SMI-aided color Doppler, SA and IVA flow velocity was measured at three timepoints: 11 + 0 to 14 + 0, 18 + 0 to 22 + 6 and 28 + 0 to 34 + 6 weeks of gestation. SA and IVA flow velocity waveforms were reported as resistance indices (RI). RI values were analyzed using multilevel modeling; individual regression curves were estimated and combined to obtain the reference intervals for SA-RI and IVA-RI in uncomplicated pregnancies. The primary clinical outcome was FGR and secondary outcomes were PE and GH. FGR was defined as estimated fetal weight < 10th percentile. Student's t-test was used to compare deviation from expected RI between normal and complicated pregnancies. Results: Among 540 pregnancies included in the analysis, 18 (3.3%) had FGR, 31 (5.7%) PE and 61 (11.3%) GH. In uncomplicated pregnancies, the SA-RI decreased progressively with advancing gestation, whereas the IVA-RI increased with gestational age. In the third trimester, the mean SA-RI and IVA-RI values were significantly higher in the FGR group compared with pregnancies that did not develop FGR, while the mean SA-RI was significantly higher in PE compared with non-PE pregnancies. There was no significant difference in mean SA-RI or IVA-RI between pregnancies with vs those without GH at any gestational age. When all three adverse outcomes were combined, SA-RI was significantly higher in pregnancies with these outcomes when compared to uncomplicated pregnancies in the third trimester (mean ± SD, 0.29 ± 0.12 vs 0.26 ± 0.12; P = 0.02). In screening for FGR using SA-RI, the areas under the receiver-operating-characteristics curves (AUC) were 0.68, 0.73 and 0.73 in the first, second and third trimesters, respectively. The respective AUCs for IVA-RI were 0.72, 0.72 and 0.73 for each trimester. Conclusions: SA-RI and IVA-RI, measured using SMI technology, were significantly higher in pregnancies at risk for FGR in late gestation. Larger studies are needed to determine if SA and IVA flow are reliable predictors of adverse pregnancy outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)350-357
Number of pages8
JournalUltrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • Doppler
  • fetal growth restriction
  • intravillous flow
  • pre-eclampsia
  • spiral artery


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