Cesarean section for suspected fetal distress, continuous fetal heart monitoring and decision to delivery time

Indian J Pediatr. 2008 Dec;75(12):1249-52. doi: 10.1007/s12098-008-0245-9. Epub 2009 Feb 4.


Objective: To find out the efficacy of continuous fetal heart monitoring by analyzing the cases of cesarean section for nonreassuring fetal heart in labor, detected by cardiotocography (CTG) and correlating these cases with perinatal outcome. To evaluate whether a 30 minute decision to delivery (D-D) interval for emergency cesarean section influences perinatal outcome.

Methods: This was a prospective observational study of 217 patients who underwent cesarean section at > or = 36 weeks for non-reassuring fetal heart in labor detected by CTG. The maternal demographic profile, specific types of abnormal fetal heart rate tracing and the decision to delivery time interval were noted. The adverse immediate neonatal outcomes in terms of Apgar score <7 at 5 minutes, umbilical cord thornH <7.10, neonates requiring immediate ventilation and NICU admissions were recorded. The correlation between non-reassuring fetal heart, decision to delivery interval and neonatal outcome were analyzed.

Results: Out of 3148 patients delivered at > or = 36 weeks, 217 (6.8%) patients underwent cesarean section during labor primarily for non-reassuring fetal heart. The most common fetal heart abnormality was persistent bradycardia in 106 (48.8%) cases followed by late deceleration in 38 (17.5%) cases and decreased beat to beat variability in 17 (7.8%) cases. In 33 (15.2%) babies the 5 minutes Apgar score was <7 out of which 13 (5.9%) babies had cord thornH <7.10. Thirty three (15.2%) babies required NICU admission for suspected birth asphyxia. Rest 184 (84.7%) neonates were born healthy and cared for by mother. Regarding decision to delivery interval of < or =30 minutes versus >30 minutes, there was no significant difference in the incidence of Apgar score <7 at 5 minutes, cord pH <7.10 and new born babies requiring immediate ventilation. But the need for admission to NICU in the group of D-D interval < or = 30 minutes was significantly higher compared to the other group where D-D interval was >30 minutes.

Conclusion: Non-reassuring fetal heart rate detected by CTG did not correlate well with adverse neonatal outcome. There was no significant difference in immediate adverse neonatal outcome whether the D-D time interval was < or = 30 minutes or >30 minutes; contrary to this, NICU admission for suspected birth asphyxia in </= 30 minutes group was significantly higher.

MeSH terms

  • Cardiotocography*
  • Cesarean Section*
  • Female
  • Fetal Distress / diagnosis*
  • Fetal Distress / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Time Factors