Screening for fetal well-being in a high-risk pregnant population comparing the nonstress test with umbilical artery Doppler velocimetry: A randomized controlled clinical trial

Keith P. Williams, Duncan F. Farquharson, Michael Bebbington, Jerome Dansereau, France Galerneau, R. D. Wilson, Dorothy Shaw, Nancy Kent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

54 Scopus citations

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the ability of two different modes of antepartum fetal testing to screen for the presence of peripartum morbidity, as measured by the cesarean delivery rate for fetal distress in labor. STUDY DESIGN: Over a 36-month period, all patients who were referred to the Fetal Assessment Unit at BC Women's Hospital because of a perceived increased fetal antepartum risk at a gestational age of ≥32 weeks of gestation were approached to participate in this study. Fetal surveillance of these women was allocated randomly to either umbilical artery Doppler ultrasound testing or nonstress testing as a screening test for fetal well-being. If either the umbilical artery Doppler testing or the nonstress testing was normal, patients were screened subsequently with the same technique, according to study protocol. When the Doppler study showed a systolic/diastolic ratio of >90th percentile or the nonstress testing was equivocal (ie, variable decelerations), an amniotic fluid index was performed, as an additional screening test. When the amniotic fluid index was abnormal (<5th percentile), induction and delivery were recommended. When the Doppler study showed absent or reversed diastolic blood flow or when the nonstress test result was abnormal, induction and delivery were recommended to the attending physician. Statistical comparisons between groups were performed with an unpaired t test for normally distributed continuous variables and χ2 test for categoric variables. RESULTS: One thousand three hundred sixty patients were assigned randomly to groups in the study; 16 patients were lost to follow up. Six hundred forty-nine patients received Doppler testing and 691 received nonstress testing. The mean number of visits for the Doppler test and nonstress test groups was two versus two, respectively. The major indications for fetal assessment included postdates (43%), decreased fetal movement (22%), diabetes mellitus (11%), hypertension (10%), and intrauterine growth restriction (7%). The incidence of cesarean delivery for fetal distress was significantly lower in the Doppler group compared with the nonstress testing group (30 [4.6%] vs 60 [8.7%], respectively; P < .006). The greatest impact on the reduction in cesarean deliveries for fetal distress was seen in the subgroups in which the indication for testing was hypertension and suspected intrauterine growth restriction. CONCLUSION: Umbilical artery Doppler as a screening test for fetal well-being in a high-risk population was associated with a decreased incidence of cesarean delivery for fetal distress compared to the nonstress testing, with no increase in neonatal morbidity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1366-1371
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Volume188
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Antepartum fetal monitoring
  • Nonstress test
  • Umbilical artery Doppler

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