Doppler assessment of the fetus with intrauterine growth restriction

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2012 Apr;206(4):300-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2012.01.022.


Objective: We sought to provide evidence-based guidelines for utilization of Doppler studies for fetuses with intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR).

Methods: Relevant documents were identified using PubMed (US National Library of Medicine, 1983 through 2011) publications, written in English, which describe the peripartum outcomes of IUGR according to Doppler assessment of umbilical arterial, middle cerebral artery, and ductus venosus. Additionally, the Cochrane Library, organizational guidelines, and studies identified through review of the above were utilized to identify relevant articles. Consistent with US Preventive Task Force suggestions, references were evaluated for quality based on the highest level of evidence, and recommendations were graded.

Results and recommendations: Summary of randomized and quasirandomized studies indicates that, among high-risk pregnancies with suspected IUGR, the use of umbilical arterial Doppler assessment significantly decreases the likelihood of labor induction, cesarean delivery, and perinatal deaths (1.2% vs 1.7%; relative risk, 0.71; 95% confidence interval, 0.52-0.98). Antepartum surveillance with Doppler of the umbilical artery should be started when the fetus is viable and IUGR is suspected. Although Doppler studies of the ductus venous, middle cerebral artery, and other vessels have some prognostic value for IUGR fetuses, currently there is a lack of randomized trials showing benefit. Thus, Doppler studies of vessels other than the umbilical artery, as part of assessment of fetal well-being in pregnancies complicated by IUGR, should be reserved for research protocols.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Blood Flow Velocity
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / diagnostic imaging*
  • Fetal Heart / diagnostic imaging
  • Fetal Heart / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Middle Cerebral Artery / diagnostic imaging
  • Middle Cerebral Artery / physiopathology
  • Pregnancy
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler / methods*
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal / methods
  • Umbilical Arteries / diagnostic imaging
  • Umbilical Arteries / physiopathology