Umbilical venous volume flow in the normally developing and growth-restricted human fetus

S. Boito, P. C. Struijk, N. T C Ursem, Th Stijnen, J. W. Wladimiroff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To determine the reproducibility of measurement of umbilical venous volume flow components and to calculate umbilical venous volume flow in normal and growth-restricted (small-for-gestational age) fetuses in a cross-sectional study. Method: Using Labview and Imaq-vision software, the cross-sectional inner area of the umbilical vein was traced. Vessel area (mm2) and Doppler-derived time-averaged flow velocity (mm/s) were multiplied to calculate volume flow (mL/min) including flow per kg fetal weight. The coefficient of variation for vessel area and flow velocity scans and tracings were determined (n = 13; 26-35 weeks). Normal charts for components and volume flow were constructed (n = 100; 20-36 weeks) and related to data from growth restricted fetuses (birth weight <5th centile) (n = 33; 22-36 weeks). In growth-restricted fetuses the umbilical artery pulsatility index was also obtained. Results: Reproducibility: The coefficient of variation was 5.4% (vessel area) and 7.3% (time-averaged velocity) for scans and 6.6% and 10.5% for measurements, resulting in a coefficient of variation of 8.1% (scans) and 11.9% (measurements) for volume flow. A gestational age-related increase exists for vessel area, time-averaged flow velocity and umbilical venous volume flow from 33.2 (SD, 15.2) mL/min at 20 weeks to 221.0 (SD, 32.8) mL/min at 36 weeks of gestation, but there is a reduction from 117.5 (SD, 33.6) mL/min to 78.3 (SD, 12.4) mL/min for volume flow per kg fetal weight. In small-for-gestational age fetuses, the values were below the normal range in 31 of 33 cases for volume flow and in 21 of 33 cases for volume flow per kg fetal weight. Umbilical artery pulsatility index was significantly different between the subsets with normal and those with reduced volume flow per kg fetal weight. Conclusions: Measurements of umbilical venous vessel area and time-averaged velocity resulted in acceptable reproducibility of volume flow calculations, which show a seven-fold increase at 20-36 weeks of gestation. In growth-restricted fetuses, volume flow is significantly reduced. When calculated per kg/fetus, the values were reduced in 21 (63.6%) out of 33 cases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-349
Number of pages6
JournalUltrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Flow velocity
  • Umbilical venous vessel size
  • Volume flow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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