JOURNAL ARTICLE
MULTICENTER STUDY

Noninvasive diagnosis by Doppler ultrasonography of fetal anemia due to maternal red-cell alloimmunization. Collaborative Group for Doppler Assessment of the Blood Velocity in Anemic Fetuses

G Mari, R L Deter, R L Carpenter, F Rahman, R Zimmerman, K J Moise, K F Dorman, A Ludomirsky, R Gonzalez, R Gomez, U Oz, L Detti, J A Copel, R Bahado-Singh, S Berry, J Martinez-Poyer, S C Blackwell
New England Journal of Medicine 2000 January 6, 342 (1): 9-14
10620643

BACKGROUND: Invasive techniques such as amniocentesis and cordocentesis are used for diagnosis and treatment in fetuses at risk for anemia due to maternal red-cell alloimmunization. The purpose of our study was to determine the value of noninvasive measurements of the velocity of blood flow in the fetal middle cerebral artery for the diagnosis of fetal anemia.

METHODS: We measured the hemoglobin concentration in blood obtained by cordocentesis and also the peak velocity of systolic blood flow in the middle cerebral artery in 111 fetuses at risk for anemia due to maternal red-cell alloimmunization. Peak systolic velocity was measured by Doppler velocimetry. To identify the fetuses with anemia, the hemoglobin values of those at risk were compared with the values in 265 normal fetuses.

RESULTS: Fetal hemoglobin concentrations increased with increasing gestational age in the 265 normal fetuses. Among the 111 fetuses at risk for anemia, 41 fetuses did not have anemia; 35 had mild anemia; 4 had moderate anemia; and 31, including 12 with hydrops, had severe anemia. The sensitivity of an increased peak velocity of systolic blood flow in the middle cerebral artery for the prediction of moderate or severe anemia was 100 percent either in the presence or in the absence of hydrops (95 percent confidence interval, 86 to 100 percent for the 23 fetuses without hydrops), with a false positive rate of 12 percent.

CONCLUSIONS: In fetuses without hydrops that are at risk because of maternal red-cell alloimmunization, moderate and severe anemia can be detected noninvasively by Doppler ultrasonography on the basis of an increase in the peak velocity of systolic blood flow in the middle cerebral artery.

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