The predictive capacity of uterine artery Doppler for preterm birth—A cohort study

Maud D. van Zijl*, Bouchra Koullali, Ben W.J. Mol, Rosalinde J. Snijders, Brenda M. Kazemier, Eva Pajkrt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
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Introduction: Mid-trimester uterine artery resistance measured with Doppler sonography is predictive for iatrogenic preterm birth. In view of the emerging association between hypertensive disease in pregnancy and spontaneous preterm birth, we hypothesized that uterine artery resistance could also predict spontaneous preterm birth. Material and methods: We performed a cohort study of women with singleton pregnancies. Uterine artery resistance was routinely measured at the 18-22 weeks anomaly scan. Pregnancies complicated by congenital anomalies or intrauterine fetal death were excluded. We analyzed if the waveform of the uterine artery (no notch, unilateral notch or bilateral notch) was predictive for spontaneous and iatrogenic preterm birth, defined as delivery before 37 weeks of gestation. Furthermore, we assessed whether the uterine artery pulsatility index was associated with the risk of preterm birth. Results: Between January 2009 and December 2016 we collected uterine Doppler indices and relevant outcome data in 4521 women. Mean gestational age at measurement was 19+6 weeks. There were 137 (3.0%) women with a bilateral and 213 (4.7%) with a unilateral notch. Mean gestational age at birth was 38+6 weeks. Spontaneous and iatrogenic preterm birth rates were 5.7% and 4.9%, respectively. Mean uterine artery resistance was 1.12 in the spontaneous preterm birth group compared with 1.04 in the term group (P = 0.004) The risk of preterm birth was increased with high uterine artery resistance (OR 2.9 per unit; 95% CI 2.4-3.9). Prevalence of spontaneous preterm birth increased from 5.5% in women without a notch in the uterine arteries to 8.0% in women with a unilateral notch and 8.0% in women with a bilateral notch. For iatrogenic preterm birth, these rates were 3.9%, 13.6% and 23.4%, respectively. Likelihood ratios for the prediction of spontaneous preterm birth were 1.6 (95% CI 1.0-2.6) and 1.9 (95% CI 1.0-3.5) for unilateral and bilateral notches, respectively, and for iatrogenic preterm birth they were 3.6 (95% CI 2.5-5.2) and 6.8 (95% CI 4.7-9.9) for unilateral and bilateral notches, respectively. Of all women with bilateral notching, 31.4% delivered preterm. Conclusions: Mid-trimester uterine artery resistance measured at 18-22 weeks of gestation is a weak predictor of spontaneous preterm birth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)494-502
Number of pages9
JournalActa Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica
Issue number4
Early online date19 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information
NHMRC Practitioner Fellowship. Grant Number: GNT1082548


  • Doppler ultrasound
  • prediction
  • spontaneous preterm birth
  • uterine artery


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