Fetal and umbilical doppler ultrasound in normal pregnancy

Source:
NICE Quality and Productivity Case Studies
Publisher:
Queen's University Belfast
Publication date:
17 March 2016

Abstract

NICE summary of review conclusions

The review of trials of routine Doppler ultrasound of the baby’s vessels in pregnancy identified

five studies involving more than 14,000 women and babies. The studies were not of high quality

and were all undertaken in the 1990s. They showed that the use of routine umbilical artery

Doppler ultrasound, or a combination of umbilical and uterine artery Doppler ultrasound in lowrisk

or unselected populations benefits neither mother nor baby and should not be used.

Stopping or reducing the use of routine umbilical artery Doppler ultrasound, or combination of

umbilical and uterine artery Doppler ultrasound in low-risk or unselected populations is likely to

lead to improved quality of patient care and improved patient experience through the reduced

use of unproven and unnecessary investigations. This is in line with the recommendation in

NICE clinical guideline 62, ‘Antenatal care for uncomplicated pregnancies.’ More research is

needed to clarify whether this will also lead to improvements in patients’ safety.

 

The Implications for practice section of the Cochrane review stated:

Existing data do not provide robust enough evidence that the use of routine

umbilical artery Doppler ultrasound, or combination of umbilical and uterine artery Doppler

ultrasound in low risk or unselected populations benefits either mother or baby.

Until further research can support new practices, Doppler ultrasound examination should be

reserved for use in high-risk pregnancies (Alfirevic et al, 2013).’