Prognostic accuracy of antenatal Doppler ultrasound for adverse perinatal outcomes in low-income and middle-income countries: a systematic review

Sam Ali, Simelina Heuving, Michael G Kawooya, Josaphat Byamugisha, Diederick E Grobbee, Aris T Papageorghiou, Kerstin Klipstein-Grobusch, Marcus J Rijken

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Objectives This systematic review examined available literature on the prognostic accuracy of Doppler ultrasound for adverse perinatal outcomes in low/middle-income countries (LMIC). Design We searched PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library and Scopus from inception to April 2020. Setting Observational or interventional studies from LMICs. Participants Singleton pregnancies of any risk profile. Interventions Umbilical artery (UA), middle cerebral artery (MCA), cerebroplacental ratio (CPR), uterine artery (UtA), fetal descending aorta (FDA), ductus venosus, umbilical vein and inferior vena cava. Primary and secondary outcome measures Perinatal death, stillbirth, neonatal death, expedited delivery for fetal distress, meconium-stained amniotic fluid, low birth weight, fetal growth restriction, admission to neonatal intensive care unit, neonatal acidosis, Apgar scores, preterm birth, fetal anaemia, respiratory distress syndrome, length of hospital stay, birth asphyxia and composite adverse perinatal outcomes (CAPO). Results We identified 2825 records, and 30 (including 4977 women) from Africa (40.0%, n=12), Asia (56.7%, n=17) and South America (3.3%, n=01) were included. Many individual studies reported associations and promising predictive values of UA Doppler for various adverse perinatal outcomes mostly in high-risk pregnancies, and moderate to high predictive values of MCA, CPR and UtA Dopplers for CAPO. A few studies suggested that the MCA and FDA may be potent predictors of fetal anaemia. No randomised clinical trial (RCT) was found. Most studies were of suboptimal quality, poorly powered and characterised by wide variations in outcome classifications, the timing for the Doppler tests and study populations. Conclusion Local evidence to guide how antenatal Doppler ultrasound should be used in LMIC is lacking. Well-designed studies, preferably RCTs, are required. Standardisation of practice and classification of perinatal outcomes across countries, following the international standards, is imperative. PROSPERO registration number CRD42019128546

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere049799
Pages (from-to)1-8
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2021


  • fetal medicine
  • prenatal diagnosis
  • ultrasonography
  • ultrasound


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