Prognostic value of placental ultrasound in pregnancies complicated by absent end-diastolic flow velocity in the umbilical arteries

S. Viero, V. Chaddha, F. Alkazaleh, M. J. Simchen, A. Malik, E. Kelly, R. Windrim, J. C.P. Kingdom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Our objective was to evaluate the utility of gray-scale placental ultrasound for the detection of pathological lesions in the placentas of preterm pregnancies with abnormal fetoplacental blood flow (defined by absent or reversed end-diastolic flow velocities [ARED] in the umbilical arteries) before 32 weeks of gestation. Sixty consecutive structurally and chromosomally normal singleton pregnancies were evaluated. Pre-defined criteria were used to describe placental appearances using gray-scale real-time ultrasound. Proximal uterine artery Doppler waveforms were recorded using pulsed and color Doppler ultrasound. Each patient had a thrombophilia profile. Following delivery, a single perinatal pathologist reviewed each placenta at a gross and microscopic level blinded to the placental ultrasound findings. Placental shape or texture was abnormal on gray-scale ultrasound in 43/59 (73%) and echogenic cystic lesions (ECL) were found in 16 (27%). Uterine artery Doppler was abnormal in 47/60 (78%) cases. Thirty-eight pregnancies were subsequently delivered by planned Caesarean section in the fetal and/or maternal interest (birthweights 540-2300 g, mean gestational age 30.6 weeks) and 21 pregnancies resulted in the vaginal delivery of a stillborn fetus where fetal weight and/or gestational age did not justify Caesarean section (birthweights 85-600 g, mean gestational age 24.9 weeks). ECL had a low positive predictive value for both villous infarcts (63%) and for focal/massive perivillous fibrin deposition (40%). Nevertheless, the combination of abnormal uterine artery Doppler and abnormal gray-scale findings (abnormal placental morphology or ECL) was strongly predictive of stillbirth (17/21; sensitivity 81%, PPV 52%, p=0.006 Fisher's exact test). Pregnancies with ARED in the umbilical arteries have a high perinatal mortality associated with pathology of the placental villi. Ultrasound examination of the placenta and its maternal blood supply may contribute to the perinatal management of these pregnancies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)735-741
Number of pages7
Issue number8-9
StatePublished - Sep 2004
Externally publishedYes


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