Fetal ultrasound biometry: 2. Abdomen and femur length reference values

Br J Obstet Gynaecol. 1999 Feb;106(2):136-43. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.1999.tb08213.x.


Objective: To create reliable reference ranges and calculate Z scores for fetal abdomen and femur ultrasound biometry using a large sample size which is evenly distributed from 12 to 42 weeks of pregnancy.

Design: A prospective, cross-sectional study.

Setting: Obstetric clinics (outpatient and delivery units) at the University Hospital of Zurich.

Sample: The study data were obtained from 6557 pregnant women.

Methods: Only the first ultrasound examination between 12 and 42 weeks of each fetus with certainly established gestational age was used for analysis. No exclusions were made on the grounds of small-for-date birthweight, prematurity or other events several weeks after the examination. Separate regression models were fitted to estimate the mean and standard deviation at each gestational age for each parameter.

Results: A total of 5807 mean abdominal diameters and abdominal circumferences were derived from fetal transverse and anterio-posterior fetal abdominal diameter measurements. Fetal femur length was measured in 5860 instances. The charts, tables and regression formulae of the biometrical measurements are presented. A comparison of our charts with others showed no significant difference. Only Merz's centiles for abdominal biometry were lower and for femur length higher than ours. An application to calculate Z scores was developed using Excel (Microsoft Corporation, USA); the macros are presented in detail in the Figure 6 footnote.

Conclusions: We have presented centile charts, tables and formulae for fetal abdominal diameter and circumference and femur length derived from a large and minimally selected sample size in a carefully designed cross-sectional study. Complete tables and regression formulae to calculate reference ranges and Z scores are presented to use in computer-aided evaluation of fetal ultrasound biometry.

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen / anatomy & histology
  • Abdomen / diagnostic imaging
  • Abdomen / embryology*
  • Anthropometry / methods*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Femur / anatomy & histology
  • Femur / diagnostic imaging
  • Femur / embryology*
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reference Values
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal*