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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 publication




Journal article


BMJ Open

Publication Date





fetal medicine, prenatal diagnosis, ultrasonography, ultrasound, Developing Countries, Female, Humans, Infant, Newborn, Middle Cerebral Artery, Predictive Value of Tests, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Outcome, Prognosis, Pulsatile Flow, Ultrasonography, Doppler, Ultrasonography, Prenatal