Middle cerebral artery blood flow velocities and pulsatility index and the cerebroplacental pulsatility ratio: longitudinal reference ranges and terms for serial measurements

Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2007 Sep;30(3):287-96. doi: 10.1002/uog.4088.


Objectives: To establish reference ranges suitable for serial assessments of the fetal middle cerebral (MCA) and umbilical (UA) artery blood flow velocities, pulsatility index (PI) and cerebroplacental pulsatility ratio and to provide terms for calculating conditional reference intervals suitable for individual serial measurements.

Methods: This was a longitudinal study of 161 singleton pregnancies. Using Doppler ultrasound, MCA and UA blood velocities and PI were determined three to five times at 3-5-week intervals over a gestational age range of 19-41 weeks. Polynomial regression lines for the 95th, 50th and 5th percentiles were calculated for the peak systolic velocity (PSV), time-averaged maximum velocity (TAMXV), PI and cerebroplacental ratio. Terms for calculating conditional reference intervals were established.

Results: Based on 566 observations our new longitudinal reference ranges for fetal middle cerebral PSV, TAMXV and PI provided terms for calculating conditional reference intervals (i.e. predicting expected 95% confidence limits based on a previous measurement), and correspondingly for the cerebroplacental ratio (n = 550). The reference ranges were at some variance with those of previous cross-sectional studies. The narrow 95% confidence limits for the 5(th) and 95(th) percentiles ensured reliable ranges.

Conclusions: We have established longitudinal reference ranges appropriate for the serial assessment of MCA blood velocities and PI and cerebroplacental ratio. Particularly the terms for calculating conditional ranges based on a previous observation make this system more appropriate for longitudinal monitoring than are cross-sectional data.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Flow Velocity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Middle Cerebral Artery / diagnostic imaging*
  • Middle Cerebral Artery / embryology
  • Middle Cerebral Artery / physiology
  • Observer Variation
  • Pregnancy
  • Pulsatile Flow
  • Reference Values
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler / methods
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal / methods
  • Umbilical Arteries / diagnostic imaging*
  • Umbilical Arteries / embryology
  • Umbilical Arteries / physiology