Fractional fetal thigh volume in the prediction of normal and abnormal fetal growth during the third trimester of pregnancy

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2017 Oct;217(4):453.e1-453.e12. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2017.06.018. Epub 2017 Jun 23.


Background: Currently, 2-dimensional ultrasound estimation of fetal size rather than fetal growth is used to define fetal growth restriction, but single estimates in late pregnancy lack sensitivity and may identify small for gestational age rather than growth restriction. Single or longitudinal measures of 3-dimensional fractional thigh volume may address this problem.

Objective: We sought to derive normal values for 3-dimensional fractional thigh volume in the third trimester, determine if fractional thigh volume is superior to 2-dimensional ultrasound biometry alone for detecting fetal growth restriction, and determine whether individualized growth assessment parameters have the potential to identify fetal growth restriction remote from term delivery.

Study design: This was a longitudinal prospective cohort study of 115 unselected pregnancies in a tertiary referral unit (St Mary's Hospital, Manchester, United Kingdom). Standard 2-dimensional ultrasound biometry measurements were obtained, along with fractional thigh volume measurements (based on 50% of the femoral diaphysis length). Measurements were used to calculate estimated fetal weight (Hadlock). Individualized growth assessment parameters and percentage deviations in longitudinally measured biometrics were determined using a Web-based system (iGAP; http://iGAP.

Research: Small for gestational age was defined <10th and fetal growth restriction <3rd customized birthweight centile. Logistic regression was used to compare estimated fetal weight (Hadlock), estimated fetal weight (biparietal diameter-abdominal circumference-fractional thigh volume), fractional thigh volume, and abdominal circumference for the prediction of small for gestational age or fetal growth restriction at birth. Screening performance was assessed using area under the receiver operating characteristic curve.

Results: There was a better correlation between fractional thigh volume and estimated fetal weight ((biparietal diameter-abdominal circumference-fractional thigh volume) obtained at 34-36 weeks with birthweight than between 2-dimensional biometry measures such as abdominal circumference and estimated fetal weight (Hadlock). There was also a modest improvement in the detection of both small for gestational age and fetal growth restriction using fractional thigh volume-derived measures compared to standard 2-dimensional measurements (area under receiver operating characteristic curve, 0.86; 95% confidence interval, 0.79-0.94, and area under receiver operating characteristic curve, 0.92; 95% confidence interval, 0.85-0.99, respectively).

Conclusion: Fractional thigh volume measurements offer some improvement over 2-dimensional biometry for the detection of late-onset fetal growth restriction at 34-36 weeks.

Keywords: 3-dimensional ultrasound; estimated fetal weight; fetal growth restriction; fractional thigh volume; small for gestational age.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Diaphyses / diagnostic imaging*
  • Diaphyses / growth & development
  • Female
  • Femur / diagnostic imaging*
  • Femur / growth & development
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / diagnosis*
  • Fetal Weight
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Third
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal*
  • Waist Circumference