New fetal weight estimation models using fractional limb volume

Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Nov;34(5):556-65. doi: 10.1002/uog.7327.


Objectives: The main goal of this study was to determine the accuracy and precision of new fetal weight estimation models, based on fractional limb volume and conventional two-dimensional (2D) sonographic measurements during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy.

Methods: A prospective cross-sectional study of 271 fetuses was performed using three-dimensional ultrasonography to extract standard measurements-biparietal diameter (BPD), abdominal circumference (AC) and femoral diaphysis length (FDL)-plus fractional arm volume (AVol) and fractional thigh volume (TVol) within 4 days of delivery. Weighted multiple linear regression analysis was used to develop 'modified Hadlock' models and new models using transformed predictors that included soft tissue parameters for estimating birth weight. Estimated and observed birth weights were compared using mean percent difference (systematic weight estimation error) and the SD of the percent differences (random weight estimation error). The proportion of newborns with estimated birth weight within 5 or 10% of actual birth weight were compared using McNemar's test.

Results: Birth weights in the study group ranged from 235 to 5790 g, with equal proportions of male and female infants. Six new fetal weight estimation models were compared with the results for modified Hadlock models with sample-specific coefficients. All the new models were very accurate, with mean percent differences that were not significantly different from zero. Model 3 (which used the natural logarithms of BPD, AC and AVol) and Model 6 (which used the natural logarithms of BPD, AC and TVol) provided the most precise weight estimations (random error = 6.6% of actual birth weight) as compared with 8.5% for the best original Hadlock model and 7.6% for a modified Hadlock model using sample-specific coefficients. Model 5 (which used the natural logarithms of AC and TVol) classified an additional 9.1% and 8.3% of the fetuses within 5% and 10% of actual birth weight and Model 6 classified an additional 7.3% and 4.1% of infants within 5% and 10% of actual birth weight.

Conclusion: The precision of fetal weight estimation can be improved by adding fractional limb volume measurements to conventional 2D biometry. New models that consider fractional limb volume may offer novel insight into the contribution of soft tissue development to weight estimation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arm / diagnostic imaging*
  • Arm / embryology
  • Biometry
  • Birth Weight
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Fetal Development*
  • Fetal Weight / physiology*
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Second
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Third
  • Prospective Studies
  • Thigh / diagnostic imaging
  • Thigh / embryology
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal / methods