Fetal Thoracic Circumference and Lung Volume and Their Relation to Fetal Size and Pulmonary Artery Blood Flow

J Ultrasound Med. 2021 Jul 21. doi: 10.1002/jum.15785. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Objective: Research on early origins of lung disease suggests the need for studying the relationships of thoracic and lung size with fetal size and pulmonary circulation. The primary aim of this study is therefore to explore the associations between fetal thoracic circumference, lung volume, and fetal size. We also aim to assess if lung volume and thoracic circumference are associated with fetal pulmonary artery blood flow velocity measures.

Methods: Cross-sectional assessment of singleton pregnancies from the general population (n = 447) at 30 gestational weeks (GW) was performed using ultrasound measurement of fetal thoracic circumference, lung volume, head and abdominal circumference, and femur length. We obtained Doppler blood flow velocity measures from the proximal branches of the fetal pulmonary artery. Associations between variables were studied using Pearson's correlation and multiple linear regression analyses.

Results: Both thoracic circumference and lung volume correlated with fetal size measures, ranging from r = 0.64 between thoracic circumference and abdominal circumference, to r = 0.28 between lung volume and femur length. Adjustment for gestational age, maternal nicotine use, pre-pregnancy body mass index, and fetal sex marginally influenced the associations with abdominal circumference. The correlations of thoracic circumference and lung volume with pulmonary artery blood flow velocity measures were weak (r ≤ 0.17).

Conclusion: We found moderate to low correlation between thoracic circumference, lung volume, and fetal size at 30 GW. The closest relationship was with the abdominal circumference. We found low correlations of thoracic circumference and lung volume with pulmonary artery blood flow velocity measures.

Keywords: Doppler; PreventADALL; fetal; lung volume; pulmonary artery; thoracic circumference.