Doppler echocardiography of the main stems of the pulmonary arteries in the normal human fetus.

Research paper by R R Chaoui, F F Taddei, G G Rizzo, C C Bast, F F Lenz, R R Bollmann

Indexed on: 20 May '98Published on: 20 May '98Published in: Ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology


The objective of this study was to describe the normal blood flow velocity waveforms in the main branches of the right and left pulmonary arteries in the human fetus and to establish reference ranges for different Doppler parameters during the second half of pregnancy. Cross-sectional data were collected from 86 healthy human singleton fetuses between 18 and 38 weeks of gestation. With advancing gestation a significant increase (p < 0.001) in the peak systolic velocity, time averaged velocity and time velocity integral was observed. The pulsatility index decreased significantly (p < 0.05) in the same period, suggesting a decrease in the pulmonary arterial vascular resistance. The acceleration time (AT) and the ratio of AT to ejection time (AT/ET), described in postnatal cardiology as having an inverse correlation with mean arterial pressure, increased significantly (p < 0.001). This is possibly the result of decreased pulmonary arterial pressure. The data show that Doppler examination of blood flow in the main stem of both the right and the left pulmonary arteries of the fetus is feasible, and increases insight into the lung perfusion of the human fetus. The observed changes throughout gestation are in accordance with animal experiments showing an increase in perfusion as well as a decrease in the vascular resistance and pressure.