Fetal Medicine Foundation reference ranges for umbilical artery and middle cerebral artery pulsatility index and cerebroplacental ratio

Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2019 Apr;53(4):465-472. doi: 10.1002/uog.20157. Epub 2019 Feb 13.


Objectives: To develop gestational age-based reference ranges for the pulsatility index in the umbilical artery (UA-PI) and fetal middle cerebral artery (MCA-PI) and the cerebroplacental ratio (MCA-PI/UA-PI), and to examine the maternal characteristics and medical history that affect these measurements.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional study of 72 387 pregnancies undergoing routine ultrasound examination at 20 + 0 to 22 + 6 weeks' gestation (n = 3712), 31 + 0 to 33 + 6 weeks (n = 29 035), 35 + 0 to 36 + 6 weeks (n = 37 252) or 41 + 0 to 41 + 6 weeks (n = 2388). For the purpose of this study, we included data for only one of the second- or third-trimester visits. The inclusion criteria were singleton pregnancy, dating by fetal crown-rump length at 11 + 0 to 13 + 6 weeks' gestation, live birth of a morphologically normal neonate and ultrasonographic measurements by sonographers who had received the Fetal Medicine Foundation Certificate of Competence in Doppler ultrasound. Since the objectives of the study were to establish reference ranges, rather than normal ranges, and to examine factors from maternal characteristics and medical history that affect these measurements, we included all pregnancies having routine ultrasound examinations, irrespective of whether the mother had a pre-existing medical condition, such as diabetes mellitus, or a pregnancy complication, such as pre-eclampsia or suspected fetal growth restriction. Median and SD models were fitted between UA-PI, MCA-PI and CPR and gestational age. Assessment of goodness of fit of the models was by inspection of quantile-to-quantile (Q-Q) plots of Z-scores calculated using the mean and SD models. The distributions of MCA-PI, UA-PI and CPR Z-scores were examined in relation to maternal characteristics and medical history.

Results: The relationship between the median and gestational age was linear for UA-PI and cubic for MCA-PI and CPR and the SD was log quadratic for all three. MCA-PI and CPR increased with gestational age from 20 weeks' gestation to reach a peak at around 32 and 34 weeks, respectively, and decreased thereafter, whereas UA-PI decreased linearly with gestational age from 20 to 42 weeks. Compared to the general population, significant deviations in multiples of the median values of UA-PI, MCA-PI and CPR were observed in subgroups of maternal age, body mass index, racial origin, method of conception and parity.

Conclusion: This study established new reference ranges for UA-PI, MCA-PI and CPR, according to gestational age, and reports maternal characteristics and medical history that affect these measurements. Copyright © 2018 ISUOG. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Keywords: Doppler ultrasound; cerebroplacental ratio; fetal middle cerebral artery pulsatility index; reference range; umbilical artery pulsatility index.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Middle Cerebral Artery / diagnostic imaging*
  • Middle Cerebral Artery / embryology
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulsatile Flow*
  • Reference Values
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Color*
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal*
  • Umbilical Arteries / diagnostic imaging*