ST waveform analysis of fetal electrocardiogram (ECG) for intrapartum surveillance (STAN) is a newly introduced method for fetal surveillance. The purpose of this commentary is to assist in the proper use of fetal ECG in combination with cardiotocography (CTG) during labour. Guidelines and recommendations concerning CTG and ST waveform interpretation and classification are stated that were agreed on by the European experts on ST waveform analysis for intrapartum surveillance during a meeting in Utretcht, the Netherlands in January 2007.
Fetal ECG; guidelines; intrapartum surveillance; ST waveform analysis
To assess the cost-effectiveness of the use of cardiotocography (CTG) complemented with fetal electrocardiography and ST analysis compared with the use of CTG alone in term deliveries when a decision has been made to use fetal monitoring with a scalp electrode.
A cost-effectiveness analysis based on a probabilistic decision model incorporating relevant strategies and lifelong outcomes.
Maternity wards in Sweden.
Women with term fetuses after a clinical decision had been made to apply a fetal scalp electrode for internal CTG.
A decision model was used to compare the costs and effects of two different treatment strategies. Baseline estimates were derived from the literature. Discounted costs and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) were simulated over a lifetime horizon using a probabilistic model.
Main outcome measures
QALYs, incremental costs, and cost per QALY gained expressed as incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER).
The analysis found an incremental effect of 0.005 QALYs for ST analysis compared with CTG; the ST analysis strategy was also moreover associated with a €56 decrease in costs, thus dominating the CTG strategy. The probability that ST analysis is cost-effective in comparison with CTG is high, irrespective of the willingness-to-pay value for a QALY.
Compared with CTG alone, ST analysis is cost-effective when used in term high-risk deliveries in which there is a need for internal fetal monitoring.
Cardiotocography; cerebral palsy; cost-effectiveness; fetal monitoring; ST analysis
Cardiotocography (CTG) is a monitoring of fetal heart rate and uterine contractions. Since 1960 it is routinely used by obstetricians to assess fetal well-being. Many attempts to introduce methods of automatic signal processing and evaluation have appeared during the last 20 years, however still no significant progress similar to that in the domain of adult heart rate variability, where open access databases are available (e.g. MIT-BIH), is visible. Based on a thorough review of the relevant publications, presented in this paper, the shortcomings of the current state are obvious. A lack of common ground for clinicians and technicians in the field hinders clinically usable progress. Our open access database of digital intrapartum cardiotocographic recordings aims to change that.
The intrapartum CTG database consists in total of 552 intrapartum recordings, which were acquired between April 2010 and August 2012 at the obstetrics ward of the University Hospital in Brno, Czech Republic. All recordings were stored in electronic form in the OB TraceVue®;system. The recordings were selected from 9164 intrapartum recordings with clinical as well as technical considerations in mind. All recordings are at most 90 minutes long and start a maximum of 90 minutes before delivery. The time relation of CTG to delivery is known as well as the length of the second stage of labor which does not exceed 30 minutes. The majority of recordings (all but 46 cesarean sections) is – on purpose – from vaginal deliveries. All recordings have available biochemical markers as well as some more general clinical features. Full description of the database and reasoning behind selection of the parameters is presented in the paper.
A new open-access CTG database is introduced which should give the research community common ground for comparison of results on reasonably large database. We anticipate that after reading the paper, the reader will understand the context of the field from clinical and technical perspectives which will enable him/her to use the database and also understand its limitations.
Cardiotocography; Intrapartum; CTG; Database; Signal processing; Fetal heart rate
To compare the effect of admission cardiotocography and Doppler auscultation of the fetal heart on neonatal outcome and levels of obstetric intervention in a low risk obstetric population.
Randomised controlled trial.
Obstetric unit of teaching hospital
Pregnant women who had no obstetric complications that warranted continuous monitoring of fetal heart rate in labour.
Women were randomised to receive either cardiotocography or Doppler auscultation of the fetal heart when they were admitted in spontaneous uncomplicated labour.
Main outcome measures
The primary outcome measure was umbilical arterial metabolic acidosis. Secondary outcome measures included other measures of condition at birth and obstetric intervention.
There were no significant differences in the incidence of metabolic acidosis or any other measure of neonatal outcome among women who remained at low risk when they were admitted in labour. However, compared with women who received Doppler auscultation, women who had admission cardiotocography were significantly more likely to have continuous fetal heart rate monitoring in labour (odds ratio 1.49, 95% confidence interval 1.26 to 1.76), augmentation of labour (1.26, 1.02 to 1.56), epidural analgesia (1.33, 1.10 to 1.61), and operative delivery (1.36, 1.12 to 1.65).
Compared with Doppler auscultation of the fetal heart, admission cardiotocography does not benefit neonatal outcome in low risk women. Its use results in increased obstetric intervention, including operative delivery.
What is already known on this topicThe admission cardiotocogram is a short recording of the fetal heart rate immediately after admission to the labour wardOpinion varies about its value in identifying a potentially compromised fetusIn low risk women, the incidence of intrapartum fetal compromise is lowWhat this study addsCompared with Doppler auscultation of the fetal heart, admission cardiotocography has no benefit on neonatal outcome in low risk womenAdmission cardiotocography results in increased obstetric intervention, including operative delivery
Intrapartum fetal hypoxia remains an important cause of death and permanent handicap and in a significant proportion of cases there is evidence of suboptimal care related to fetal surveillance. Cardiotocographic (CTG) monitoring remains the basis of intrapartum surveillance, but its interpretation by healthcare professionals lacks reproducibility and the technology has not been shown to improve clinically important outcomes. The addition of fetal electrocardiogram analysis has increased the potential to avoid adverse outcomes, but CTG interpretation remains its main weakness. A program for computerised analysis of intrapartum fetal signals, incorporating real-time alerts for healthcare professionals, has recently been developed. There is a need to determine whether this technology can result in better perinatal outcomes.
This is a multicentre randomised clinical trial. Inclusion criteria are: women aged ≥ 16 years, able to provide written informed consent, singleton pregnancies ≥ 36 weeks, cephalic presentation, no known major fetal malformations, in labour but excluding active second stage, planned for continuous CTG monitoring, and no known contra-indication for vaginal delivery. Eligible women will be randomised using a computer-generated randomisation sequence to one of the two arms: continuous computer analysis of fetal monitoring signals with real-time alerts (intervention arm) or continuous CTG monitoring as previously performed (control arm). Electrocardiographic monitoring and fetal scalp blood sampling will be available in both arms. The primary outcome measure is the incidence of fetal metabolic acidosis (umbilical artery pH < 7.05, BDecf > 12 mmol/L). Secondary outcome measures are: caesarean section and instrumental vaginal delivery rates, use of fetal blood sampling, 5-minute Apgar score < 7, neonatal intensive care unit admission, moderate and severe neonatal encephalopathy with a marker of hypoxia, perinatal death, rate of internal monitoring, tracing quality, and signal loss. Analysis will follow an intention to treat principle. Incidences of primary and secondary outcomes will be compared between groups. Assuming a reduction in metabolic acidosis from 2.8% to 1.8%, using a two-sided test with alpha = 0.05, power = 0.80, and 10% loss to follow-up, 8133 women need to be randomised.
This study will provide evidence of the impact of intrapartum monitoring with computer analysis and real-time alerts on the incidence of adverse perinatal outcomes, intrapartum interventions and signal quality. (Current controlled trials ISRCTN42314164)
The epidural route is still considered the gold standard for labour analgesia, although it is not without serious consequences when incorrect placement goes unrecognized, e.g. in case of intravascular, intrathecal and subdural placements. Until now there has not been a viable alternative to epidural analgesia especially in view of the neonatal outcome and the need for respiratory support when long-acting opioids are used via the parenteral route. Pethidine and meptazinol are far from ideal having been described as providing rather sedation than analgesia, affecting the cardiotocograph (CTG), causing fetal acidosis and having active metabolites with prolonged half-lives especially in the neonate. Despite these obvious shortcomings, intramuscular and intravenously administered pethidine and comparable substances are still frequently used in delivery units.
Since the end of the 90ths remifentanil administered in a patient-controlled mode (PCA) had been reported as a useful alternative for labour analgesia in those women who either don’t want, can’t have or don’t need epidural analgesia.
In view of the need for conversion to central neuraxial blocks and the analgesic effect remifentanil has been demonstrated to be superior to pethidine. Despite being less effective in terms of the resulting pain scores, clinical studies suggest that the satisfaction with analgesia may be comparable to that obtained with epidural analgesia. Owing to this fact, remifentanil has gained a place in modern labour analgesia in many institutions.
However, the fact that remifentanil may cause harm should not be forgotten when the use of this potent mu-agonist is considered for the use in labouring women. In the setting of one-to-one midwifery care, appropriate monitoring and providing that enough experience exists with this potent opioid and the treatment of potential complications, remifentanil PCA is a useful option in addition to epidural analgesia and other central neuraxial blocks. Already described serious consequences should remind us not refer to remifentanil PCA as a “poor man’s epidural” and to safely administer remifentanil with an appropriate indication.
Therefore, the authors conclude that economic considerations and potential cost-savings in conjunction with remifentanil PCA may not be appropriate main endpoints when studying this valuable method for labour analgesia.
Remifentanil; Epidural Analgesia; Labour Pain; Labour Analgesia; Patient Controlled Analgesia; Patient Satisfaction; Healthcare Cost; Healthcare Economics
Cardiotocography (CTG) is the most widely used tool for fetal surveillance. The visual analysis of fetal heart rate (FHR) traces largely depends on the expertise and experience of the clinician involved. Several approaches have been proposed for the effective interpretation of FHR. In this paper, a new approach for FHR feature extraction based on empirical mode decomposition (EMD) is proposed, which was used along with support vector machine (SVM) for the classification of FHR recordings as 'normal' or 'at risk'.
The FHR were recorded from 15 subjects at a sampling rate of 4 Hz and a dataset consisting of 90 randomly selected records of 20 minutes duration was formed from these. All records were labelled as 'normal' or 'at risk' by two experienced obstetricians. A training set was formed by 60 records, the remaining 30 left as the testing set. The standard deviations of the EMD components are input as features to a support vector machine (SVM) to classify FHR samples.
For the training set, a five-fold cross validation test resulted in an accuracy of 86% whereas the overall geometric mean of sensitivity and specificity was 94.8%. The Kappa value for the training set was .923. Application of the proposed method to the testing set (30 records) resulted in a geometric mean of 81.5%. The Kappa value for the testing set was .684.
Based on the overall performance of the system it can be stated that the proposed methodology is a promising new approach for the feature extraction and classification of FHR signals.
to verify whether there are other than transitory effects of antenatal betamethasone (administered for fetal lung maturity [FLM] enhancement) on fetal heart rate (FHR) variability detected by computerized cardiotocography (cCTG) in cases where formerly steroid-treated fetuses reached term.
Materials and methods
cCTG of one hundred sixty-four women (study group) exposed to antenatal betamethasone for risk of preterm delivery in third trimester period were compared to controls (pregnancies who presented risk of preterm labour in the same period of cases, although with no steroids administration). cCTG was performed weekly as of standard schedule when pregnancies reach term from 37–40 weeks’ gestation for cases and controls.
regarding data concerning cCTG at term for cases and controls, no significant difference was found for FHR, Acc (accelerations) 10 min, and FM (fetal movements) between groups. LV (low variation)/min and LV/msec were absent in cCTG parameters of fetuses in the study group.
Instead, for all weeks studied (37 to 40), cCTG parameters were higher for HV (high variation)/msec, STV(short term variation)/msec, and Acc 15 in cases with respect to controls.
interestingly, maternal corticosteroid administration may be related to higher fetal reactivity when fetuses exposed to steroid therapy reach term. Our observation may help in the interpretation of a “more reactive” CTG trace in babies whose mothers previously received steroid therapy for FLM enhancement.
computerized cardiotocography; betamethasone; intrauterine long-term effects
The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of vibroacoustic stimulation (VAS) on computerized cardiotocography short-term variability (STV) and approximate entropy (ApEn) in both low- and high-risk pregnancies. VAS was performed on 121 high- and 95 low-risk pregnancies after 10 minutes of continuous quiet, while their FHR parameters were monitored and recorded by cCTG analysis. Fetal heart rate was recorded using a computer-assisted equipment. Baseline FHR, accelerations, decelerations, STV, long-term irregularity (LTI), ApEn, and fetal movements (FMs) were calculated for defined observational periods before VAS and after 10 minutes. Data were also investigated in relationship with the perinatal outcome. In each group of patients, FHR after VAS remained almost unmodified. Fetal movements significantly increased after VAS in both groups. Results show that only in the high-risk pregnancies, the increase of STV and the decrease of ApEn after VAS were significantly associated with favorable perinatal outcomes.
Intrauterine extremity gangrene in combination with cerebral infarction is a serious and rare event. We present a case with a healthy mother who gave birth to a child with this condition. At term, the mother presented at the antenatal clinic with decreased fetal movements. Cardiotocography (CTG) showed signs of fetal distress and a caesarean section was performed. The left arm of the newborn was found gangrenous. Amputation of the arm was necessary and the child was subsequently treated with anticoagulant therapy due to thrombosis and cerebral infarction in the left hemisphere found by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). At one year of age the boy was doing well and had prosthesis as a left arm. He had no signs of further complications. Despite thorough examination of the parents and the child, the reason for the thrombosis is still unknown.
Fetal behavior is defined as any fetal action seen by the mother or fetus diagnosed by objective methods such as cardiotocography (CTG) or ultrasound. Analysis of the dynamics of the fetal behavior with morphological studies has lead to the conclusion that fetal behavior patterns are directly reflecting development and maturation of the central nervous system. The assessment of fetal behavior by 4D ultrasound could allow distinction between normal and abnormal fetal behavior patterns which might make possible the early recognition of fetal brain impairment.
Aim: Assessment of fetal movements throughout the pregnancy using 4D ultrasound.
Material and Method: The study group included 144 healthy pregnant women with single pregnancies between 7-38 weeks of gestation. For the first trimester of pregnancy we assessed eight types of fetal movements and for the second and third trimesters 14 types of fetal movements and facial expressions. The analyzed parameters for each trimester of pregnancy can be used for performing antenatal neurodevelopment test, used the first time by Professor Kurjak.
Results: After 15-20 minutes 4D ultrasound examination, we found a pattern of fetal behavior for each trimester of pregnancy.
Conclusions: Dynamic evaluation of fetal behavior reflects directly the processes of maturation and development of the central nervous system. This can make the difference between normal and abnormal brain development and may be used for early diagnosis of neurological disorders that become manifest in perinatal and postnatal periods.
fetal behavior; 4D ultrasound; fetal movements
STUDY OBJECTIVE: To determine the extent of intrapartum intervention received by primigravidas. DESIGN: Cross sectional survey of NHS hospitals in the UK. SETTING: One hundred and one randomly selected hospital maternity units. PARTICIPANTS: Forty consecutive primigravid women, judged to be at low risk at the start of labour, in each hospital. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Seven groups of interventions or monitoring procedures were identified from the first, second, and third stages of labour: fetal monitoring, vaginal examinations, artificial rupture of membranes, augmentation of labour, pain relief, type of delivery, and episiotomy. Data were collected during 1993. MAIN RESULTS: Ninety eight hospitals took part in the study and data were collected on 3160 low risk primigravidas. Seventy four per cent of these women had continuous cardiotocography. The proportion of women having restrictive or invasive fetal monitoring showed appreciable geographical variation for both the first and second stages of labour. Using the criterion of a vaginal examination every four hours and allowing for the length of each woman's labour, 72% had more vaginal examinations than expected; there was a significant geographical variation in the number of women receiving more than five examinations. Fifty three per cent had artificial rupture of membranes; the procedure was performed over a wide range of cervical dilatations (0 cm-10 cm). Thirty eight per cent of labours were augmented, most commonly by intravenous syntocinon; the procedure showed significant geographical variation. Twenty eight per cent had a spinal block or epidural analgesia for the relief of pain; this intervention varied by geographical region only for the second stage of labour. Over one quarter of the women required instrumental delivery. Forty six per cent had an episiotomy; the frequency of this intervention varied substantially by region. There were no infant deaths. Twelve babies were recorded at birth as having a congenital anomaly. CONCLUSIONS: The rates of several interventions seem high for this low risk group and there was substantial geographical variation in the use of six interventions. Clinical trials are needed to evaluate the optimum criteria for using these interventions from which guidelines should be drawn up by local groups and the Royal College.
Confidential Enquiries into Stillbirths and Deaths in Infancy (CESDI) have
pointed to a high frequency of suboptimal intrapartum fetal care of a kind
that, in the event of an adverse outcome, is hard to defend in court. In an
effort to minimize liability, various strategies were applied in a district
hospital labour ward—guidelines, cyclical audit, monthly feedback
meetings and training sessions in cardiotocography (CTG). The effects of these
interventions on quality of care was assessed by use of the CESDI system in
all babies born with an Apgar score of 4 or less at 1 min and/or 7 or less at
540 babies (4.3%) had low Apgar scores, and neither the percentage nor
gestational age differed significantly between audit periods. In the baseline
audit, care was judged suboptimal (grade II/III) in 14 (74%) of 19 cases, and
in the next four periods it was 23%, 27%, 27% and 32%. In the latest audit
period, after further educational interventions, it was 9%. Many of the
failures to recognize or act on abnormal events were related to CTG
interpretation. After the interventions there was a significant increase in
cord blood pH measurement. There were no differences between audit periods in
the proportion of babies with cord pH <7.2.
These results indicate that substantial improvements in quality of
intrapartum care can be achieved by a programme of clinical risk
To evaluate the feasibility of continuous telemetric trans-abdominal fetal electrocardiogram (a-fECG) in women undergoing labour induction at home.
Low risk women with singleton term pregnancy undergoing labour induction with retrievable, slow-release dinoprostone pessaries (n = 70) were allowed home for up to 24 hours, while a-fECG and uterine activity were monitored in hospital via wireless technology. Semi-structured diaries were analysed using a combined descriptive and interpretive approach.
62/70 women (89%) had successful home monitoring; 8 women (11%) were recalled because of signal loss. Home monitoring lasted between 2–22 hours (median 10 hours). Good quality signal was achieved most of the time (86%, SD 10%). 3 women were recalled back to hospital for suspicious a-fECG. In 2 cases suspicious a-fECG persisted, requiring Caesarean section after recall to hospital. 48/51 women who returned the diary coped well (94%); 46/51 were satisfied with home monitoring (90%).
Continuous telemetric trans-abdominal fetal ECG monitoring of ambulatory women undergoing labour induction is feasible and acceptable to women.
The aim of intrapartum continuous electronic fetal monitoring using a cardiotocograph (CTG) is to identify a fetus exposed to intrapartum hypoxic insults so that timely and appropriate action could be instituted to improve perinatal outcome. Features observed on a CTG trace reflect the functioning of somatic and autonomic nervous systems and the fetal response to hypoxic or mechanical insults during labour. Although, National Guidelines on electronic fetal monitoring exist for term fetuses, there is paucity of recommendations based on scientific evidence for monitoring preterm fetuses during labour. Lack of evidence-based recommendations may pose a clinical dilemma as preterm births account for nearly 8% (1 in 13) live births in England and Wales. 93% of these preterm births occur after 28 weeks, 6% between 22–27 weeks, and 1% before 22 weeks. Physiological control of fetal heart rate and the resultant features observed on the CTG trace differs in the preterm fetus as compared to a fetus at term making interpretation difficult. This review describes the features of normal fetal heart rate patterns at different gestations and the physiological responses of a preterm fetus compared to a fetus at term. We have proposed an algorithm “ACUTE” to aid management.
Obesity among fertile women is a global problem. 25% of pregnant Swedish women are overweight at admission to the antenatal clinic and 12% of them are considered as obese. Previous studies have shown an increased risk of delivery complications with an elevated maternal BMI. The aim of this study was to evaluate delivery outcomes in relation to maternal BMI on admission to the antenatal clinic.
A healthy group of 787 women with full-term pregnancies and spontaneous onset of labor were included in the study. Delivery outcome was assessed in relation to maternal BMI when attending the antenatal clinic.
The results indicated that in deliveries where the maternal BMI was >30 a high frequency of abnormal CTG trace during the last 30 minutes of labor was shown. A blood sample for evaluation of risk of fetal hypoxia was performed in only eight percent of these deliveries. A spontaneous vaginal delivery without intervention was noted in 85.7%, and 12% of neonates were delivered with an adverse fetal outcome compared to 2.8% in the group with a maternal BMI<30 (p<0.001).
These results indicate an increased risk at delivery for healthy, but obese women in labor. Furthermore, the delivery management may not always be optimal in these deliveries.
Obesity; Fetal outcome; Delivery outcome
OBJECTIVE--To compare the effects on fetal and maternal morbidity of routine active management of third stage of labour and expectant (physiological) management, in particular to determine whether active management reduced incidence of postpartum haemorrhage. DESIGN--Randomised trial of active versus physiological management. Women entered trial on admission to labour ward with allocation revealed just before vaginal delivery. Five months into trial high rate of postpartum haemorrhage in physiological group (16.5% v 3.8%) prompted modification of protocol to exclude more women and allow those allocated to physiological group who needed some active management to be switched to fully active management. Sample size of 3900 was planned, but even after protocol modification a planned interim analysis after first 1500 deliveries showed continuing high postpartum haemorrhage rate in physiological group and study was stopped. SETTING--Maternity hospital. PARTICIPANTS--Of 4709 women delivered from 1 January 1986 to 31 January 1987, 1695 were admitted to trial and allocated randomly to physiological (849) or active (846) management. Reasons for exclusion were: refusal, antepartum haemorrhage, cardiac disease, breech presentation, multiple pregnancy, intrauterine death, and, after May 1986, ritodrine given two hours before delivery, anticoagulant treatment, and any condition needing a particular management of third stage. INTERVENTIONS--All but six women allocated to active management actually received it, having prophylactic oxytocic, cord clamping before placental delivery, and cord traction; whereas just under half those allocated to physiological management achieved it. A fifth of physiological group received prophylactic oxytocic, two fifths underwent cord traction and just over half clamping of the cord before placental delivery. ENDPOINT--Reduction in incidence of postpartum haemorrhage from 7.5% under physiological management to 5.0% under active management. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS--Incidence of postpartum haemorrhage was 5.9% in active management group and 17.9% in physiological group (odds ratio 3.13; 95% confidence interval 2.3 to 4.2), a contrast reflected in other indices of blood loss. In physiological group third stage was longer (median 15 min v 5 min) and more women needed therapeutic oxytocics (29.7% v 6.4%). Apgar scores at one and five minutes and incidence of neonatal respiratory problems were not significantly different between groups. Babies in physiological group weighed mean of 85 g more than those in active group. When women allocated to and receiving active management (840) were compared with those who actually received physiological management (403) active management still produced lower rate of postpartum haemorrhage (odds ratio 2.4;95% CI1.6 to 3.7). CONCLUSIONS--Policy of active management practised in this trial reduces incidence of postpartum haemorrhage, shortens third stage, and results in reduced neonatal packed cell volume.
OBJECTIVE--To determine whether the high rate of forceps delivery associated with the use of epidural analgesia could be reduced through giving an intravenous infusion of oxytocin during the second stage of labour. DESIGN--A randomised, double blind, placebo controlled trial. SETTING--Delivery suites in three hospitals. SUBJECTS--226 Primiparous women with adequate epidural analgesia in whom full dilatation of the cervix had been achieved without prior stimulation with oxytocin. INTERVENTION--An infusion of oxytocin or placebo starting at the diagnosis of full cervical dilatation at an initial dose rate of 2 mU/min increasing to a maximum of 16 mU/min. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--The outcome of labour was assessed in terms of the duration of the second stage, mode of delivery, fetal condition at birth, postpartum blood loss, and the incidence of perineal trauma. RESULTS--Treatment with oxytocin was associated with a shorter second stage (p = 0.01), a reduction in the number of non-rotational forceps deliveries (p = 0.03), and less perineal trauma (p = 0.03) but was not associated with any reduction in the number of rotational forceps deliveries performed for malposition of the occiput. No adverse effects on fetal condition at birth or in the early puerperium were seen in association with the use of oxytocin. CONCLUSIONS--The use of an oxytocin infusion may reduce the high rate of operative delivery associated with epidural analgesia provided that the fetal occiput is in an anterior position at the onset of the second stage of labour but within the dose range studied does not seem to correct malposition of the fetal occiput.
There is increasing interest in carrying out pre-induction cervical ripening on an outpatient basis. However, there are concerns about the use of prostaglandins, the agents commonly used in hospital settings for this indication, because prostaglandins induce uterine contractions that may lead to fetal hypoxia. Indeed, in a recent study we demonstrated abnormalities in 9% of fetal heart rate tracings performed following prostaglandin induced cervical ripening at term. In contrast, we confirmed in the same study that isosorbide mononitrate (IMN) (administered on an inpatient basis) was both effective in inducing cervical ripening at term, and was associated with no associated fetal heart rate abnormalities.
The aim of this study is to determine whether IMN self administered by women on an outpatient basis improves the process of induction of labour. Specifically, we hypothesise that the use of outpatient IMN will result in a shorter inpatient stay before delivery, decreased costs to the health service and greater maternal satisfaction with ripening and induction of labour, compared with placebo treatment.
In the study described here (the "IMOP" study), women scheduled for induction of labour at term, and who require pre-induction cervical ripening will be randomised to self-administer at home either IMN 40 mg, or a placebo, each vaginally, at 48 hours, 32 hours and 16 hours before scheduled hospital admission.
After admission to hospital, treatment will revert to the usual induction of labour protocol. We will compare the primary outcomes of the elapsed time interval from hospital admission to vaginal delivery, the costs to the health service of induction of labour, and women's experience of induction of labour in the two groups.
This trial will provide evidence on the efficacy of outpatient IMN for pre-induction cervical ripening at term. We will study a formulation of IMN which is cheap and widely available. If the treatment is effective, acceptable to women, and cost effective, it could be implemented into obstetric practice worldwide.
The trial has been registered on the International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number Register (ISRCTN) and given the registration number ISRTN39772441.
Current recommendations do not support the use of continuous electronic fetal monitoring (EFM) for low risk women during labour, yet EFM remains widespread in clinical practice. Consideration of the views, perspectives and experiences of individuals directly concerned with EFM application may be beneficial for identifying barriers to and facilitators for implementing evidence-based maternity care. The aim of this paper is to offer insight and understanding, through systematic review and thematic analysis, of research into professionals’ views on fetal heart rate monitoring during labour.
Any study whose aim was to explore professional views of fetal monitoring during labour was considered eligible for inclusion. The electronic databases of MEDLINE (1966–2010), CINAHL (1980–2010), EMBASE (1974–2010) and Maternity and Infant Care: MIDIRS (1971–2010) were searched in January 2010 and an updated search was performed in March 2012. Quality appraisal of each included study was performed. Data extraction tables were developed to collect data. Data synthesis was by thematic analysis.
Eleven studies, including 1,194 participants, were identified and included in this review. Four themes emerged from the data: 1) reassurance, 2) technology, 3) communication/education and 4) midwife by proxy.
This systematic review and thematic analysis offers insight into some of the views of professionals on fetal monitoring during labour. It provides evidence for the continuing use of EFM when caring for low-risk women, contrary to current research evidence. Further research to ascertain how some of these views might be addressed to ensure the provision of evidence-based care for women and their babies is recommended.
Fetal monitoring; Pregnancy; Labour; Views
To evaluate the effect of moderate aerobic physical activity in water on fetal cardiotocography patterns in sedentary pregnant women.
In a non-randomized controlled trial, 133 previously sedentary pregnant women participated in multiple regular sessions of water aerobics in a heated swimming pool. Cardiotocography was performed for 20 minutes before and just after the oriented exercise. Cardiotocography patterns were analyzed pre- and post-exercise according to gestational age groups (24-27, 28-31, 32-35 and 36-40 weeks). Student's t and Wilcoxon, and McNemar tests were used, respectively, to analyze numerical and categorical variables.
No significant variations were found between pre- and post-exercise values of fetal heart rate (FHR), number of fetal body movements (FM) or accelerations (A), FM/A ratio or the presence of decelerations. Variability in FHR was significantly higher following exercise only in pregnancies of 24-27 weeks.
Moderate physical activity in water was not associated with any significant alterations in fetal cardiotocography patterns, which suggests no adverse effect on the fetus.
BACKGROUND: As the interval between rupture of the fetal membranes at term and delivery increases, so may the risk of fetal and maternal infection. Recently the TERMPROM (Term Prelabor Rupture of the Membranes) Study Group reported the results of a randomized controlled trial comparing 4 management strategies: induction with oxytocin (IwO), induction with prostaglandin (IwP), and expectant management and induction with either oxytocin (EM-O) or prostaglandin (EM-P) if complications developed. The study found no statistically significant differences in neonatal infection and cesarean section rates between any of the 4 groups. OBJECTIVE: To conduct an economic evaluation comparing the cost of (a) IwO and EM-O, (b) IwP and EM-P and (c) IwO and IwP. DESIGN: An economic analysis, conducted alongside the clinical trial, using a third-party payer perspective. Analysis included all treatment costs incurred for both the mother and the baby. Information on health care utilization and outcomes was collected for all study participants. Three countries (Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia), corresponding to the largest study recruitment, were chosen for calculation of unit costs. For each country, the base, low and high estimates of unit cost for each service item were generated. Intention-to-treat analysis. Extensive statistical and sensitivity analyses were performed. RESULTS: The median cost of IwO per patient was significantly lower statistically than that of EM-O and IwP. This result held in all 3 countries compared -$114 and -$46 in Canada, -113 Pounds and -63 Pounds in the UK, and -A$30 and -A$49 in Australia) and after an extensive sensitivity analysis. There was no statistically significant difference in median cost per patient between IwP and EM-P. CONCLUSION: Although the clinical results of the TERMPROM study did not find IwO to be preferable to the other treatment alternatives, the economic evaluation found it to be less costly. However, these cost differences, even though statistically significant, are not likely to be important in many countries. When this is the case, the authors recommend that women be offered a choice between management strategies.
The outcome of labour of 185 low-risk pregnancies at an isolated general practitioner maternity unit was compared with that for 185 comparable low-risk pregnancies at a specialist maternity hospital. No difference was found in mode of delivery or in the proportion of women requiring no analgesia, although significantly more women in the general practice group received analgesia beyond nitrous oxide. There was a significantly higher level of intervention in labour in the maternity hospital group in the form of fetal monitoring and augmentation of labour. The duration of first stage of labour was longer and meconium staining less frequent in the general practice group. Fourteen (7.6%) of the general practice group were transferred in labour to the specialist unit.
The results suggest that where considerations for selection of low-risk pregnancy permit, the general practice maternity unit can provide a distinctive style of intrapartum care with minimum intervention.
Fetal growth restriction (FGR) is challenging because of the difficulties in reaching a definitive diagnosis of the cause and planning management. FGR is associated not only with a marked increased risk in perinatal mortality and morbidity but also with long‐term outcome risks. Combinations of fetal biometry, amniotic fluid volume, heart rate patterns, arterial and venous Doppler, and biophysical variables allow a comprehensive fetal evaluation of FGR. However, no evidence supports that the use of cardiotocography or the biophysical profile improves perinatal outcome. Therefore, obstetricians aim to identify fetuses with early FGR so delivery can be planned according to gestational age and severity of the condition. The balance of risks and the need for the availability of services mean that the involvement of neonatologists in FGR management is vital. In this review, the focus is on the pathophysiology and management of FGR caused by placental diseases.
Severe fetal acidemia during labour with arterial pH below 7.00 is associated with increased risk of hypoxic-ischemic brain injury. Electronic fetal heart rate (FHR) monitoring, the mainstay of intrapartum surveillance, has poor specificity for detecting fetal acidemia. We studied brain electrical activity measured with electrocorticogram (ECOG) in the near term ovine fetus subjected to repetitive umbilical cord occlusions (UCO) inducing FHR decelerations, as might be seen in human labour, to delineate the time-course for ECOG changes with worsening acidemia and thereby assess the potential clinical utility of fetal ECOG.
Ten chronically catheterized fetal sheep were studied through a series of mild, moderate and severe UCO until the arterial pH was below 7.00. At a pH of 7.24±0.04, 52±13 min prior to the pH dropping <7.00, spectral edge frequency (SEF) increased to 23±2 Hz from 3±1 Hz during each FHR deceleration (p<0.001) and was correlated to decreases in FHR and in fetal arterial blood pressure during each FHR deceleration (p<0.001).
The UCO-related changes in ECOG occurred in advance of the pH decreasing below 7.00. These ECOG changes may be a protective mechanism suppressing non-essential energy needs when oxygen supply to the fetal brain is decreased acutely. By detecting such “adaptive brain shutdown,” the need for delivery in high risk pregnant patients may be more accurately predicted than with FHR monitoring alone. Therefore, monitoring fetal electroencephalogram (EEG, the human equivalent of ECOG) during human labour may be a useful adjunct to FHR monitoring.