The prognostic accuracy of short term variation of fetal heart rate in early-onset fetal growth restriction: A systematic review

A. Pels, N. A. Mensing van Charante, C. A. Vollgraff Heidweiller-Schreurs, J. Limpens, H. Wolf, M. A. de Boer, W. Ganzevoort

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Cardiotocography (CTG) is an important tool for fetal surveillance in severe early-onset fetal growth restriction (FGR). Assessment of the CTG is usually performed visually (vCTG). However, it is suggested that computerized analysis of the CTG (cCTG) including short term variability (STV) could more accurately detect fetal compromise. The objective of this study was to systematically review the literature on the association between cCTG and perinatal outcome and the comparison of cCTG with vCTG. Study design: A systematic search was performed in MEDLINE, EMBASE and Google Scholar. Studies were included that assessed prognostic accuracy of STV or compared STV to vCTG in patients with FGR. Risk of bias and concerns about applicability were assessed with the QUADAS-2 (Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies-2) instrument. Results: Of the 885 records identified in the search, five cohort studies (387 patients) were included. We found no randomized studies comparing STV with visual CTG in patients with FGR. The risk of bias of all studies was generally judged as ‘low’. One small study found an association of low STV with neonatal acidosis. One study observed no association of STV with long-term outcome. Composite analysis of all five studies showed a non-significant relative risk for acidosis after a low STV of 1.4 (95% CI 0.6–3.2, N = 387). Further meta-analysis was hampered due to heterogeneity in outcome reporting and use of different thresholds. Conclusion: The evidence from the included studies did not support an association of STV and short or long term outcome. However, available data are limited and heterogeneous, and influenced by management based on STV. Solid evidence from a randomized controlled trial comparing STV with vCTG including long term infant outcome is needed before STV can be used clinically for timing of delivery in patients with FGR.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-184
JournalEuropean journal of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019

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