Prospective validation of fetal weight estimation using fractional limb volume

Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2013 Feb;41(2):198-203. doi: 10.1002/uog.11185. Epub 2013 Jan 7.


Objectives: To prospectively validate the use of fractional limb volume measurements for estimated fetal weight (EFW) during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy and to summarize the medical literature regarding application of fractional limb volume for fetal weight estimation.

Methods: One hundred and sixty-four women prospectively underwent three-dimensional ultrasonography within 4 days of delivery. Birth weights (BWs) ranged from 390 to 5426 g. Fetal measurements were extracted using volume datasets for biparietal diameter, abdominal circumference, femur diaphysis length, fractional arm volume and fractional thigh volume. Fractional limb volumes were manually traced from a central portion of the humerus or femur diaphysis. Mean percentage differences and SDs of the percentage differences were calculated for EFW. The proportion of newborns with EFW within 5 or 10% of BW were compared with an estimate obtained using a Hadlock formula that was modified using model coefficients from the same local population sample.

Results: Ultrasound scans were performed between 21.7 and 42 weeks' menstrual age. Optimal model performance (1.9 ± 6.6%) resulted from using a combination of biparietal diameter, abdominal circumference and fractional thigh volume. The precision of this model was superior to results obtained using a modified Hadlock model (1.1 ± 8.4%), although accuracy of these predictions was slightly decreased for female infants. For all fetuses, the prediction model that incorporated fractional thigh volume correctly classified a greater proportion of EFW within 5% (55.1 vs 43.7%; P = 0.03) or 10% (86.5 vs 75.9%; P < 0.05) of BW when compared with the modified Hadlock model.

Conclusions: Fractional thigh volume can be added to two-dimensional sonographic measurements of the head and trunk to improve the precision of fetal weight estimation. This approach permits the inclusion of soft tissue development as part of a weight estimation procedure for the assessment of generalized fetal nutritional status.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arm / embryology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Fetal Weight / physiology*
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Organ Size
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Second
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Third
  • Prospective Studies
  • Thigh / embryology*
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal / methods