Objective: Our purpose was to investigate arterial, venous, and intracardiac blood flow in growth-retarded fetuses and to relate the Doppler results to blood gases in umbilical venous blood obtained by cordocentesis.
Study design: A cross-sectional, pulsed-wave color Doppler ultrasonographic study of 23 severely growth-retarded fetuses undergoing cordocentesis and measurement of blood gases was performed. Blood velocity waveforms were recorded from the descending thoracic aorta, middle cerebral artery, inferior vena cava, ductus venosus, and atrioventricular valves.
Results: The Doppler studies demonstrated evidence of redistribution in the arterial system with increased impedance to flow in the aorta and decreased impedance in the cerebral circulation. The velocity of flow in the venous system and across the atrioventricular valves was decreased, whereas pulsatility of waveforms in the inferior vena cava and ductus venosus was increased. The mean umbilical venous blood PO2 and pH were decreased, and there were significant associations between blood gases and Doppler parameters in the thoracic aorta, middle cerebral artery, and ductus venosus.
Conclusion: In severe intrauterine growth retardation the degree of fetal acidemia can be estimated from Doppler measurements of pulsatility in both the arterial system and the ductus venosus.