Intrapartum sonographic signs: new diagnostic tools in malposition and malrotation

J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2016;29(15):2408-13. doi: 10.3109/14767058.2015.1092137. Epub 2015 Oct 7.


In the past years, numerous studies have been published on the use of ultrasound during labor, showing this is an effective, accurate and objective tool for the assessment of the fetal head position and station. Literature affirmed that traditional transvaginal digital examination is highly subjective and dependent on the operator's experience. On the contrary, the use of intrapartum suprapubic transabdominal ultrasound can improve accuracy in determination of fetal head position and the precise knowledge of the location of specific fetal head landmarks in relationship to maternal pelvis. Intrapartum ultrasound will assist obstetricians in the diagnosis of normal labor progression, suggesting when medical and or operative intervention should be taken in case of complications. During each fetal head movement, there is a very specific relationship between fetal head landmarks and well-identified maternal structures, so the ultrasound diagnosis is performed step by step. In this review, we summarized the clinical situation of the fetal head in the pelvis and the relative ultrasonographic signs. Moreover, we collected all the ultrasonographic measures to diagnose the fetal head progression and rotations in the birth canal.

Keywords: Asynclitism; dystocia; intrapartum ultrasound; labor progress; occiput posterior position; operative delivery; sonographic assessment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Fetus
  • Humans
  • Labor Presentation*
  • Obstetric Labor Complications / diagnostic imaging*
  • Parturition / physiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal / methods*