Elsevier Trophoblast Research Award Lecture: Searching for an early pregnancy 3-D morphometric ultrasound marker to predict fetal growth restriction
Collins SL., Stevenson GN., Noble JA., Impey L.
Fetal growth restriction (FGR) is a major cause of perinatal morbidity and mortality, even in term babies. An effective screening test to identify pregnancies at risk of FGR, leading to increased antenatal surveillance with timely delivery, could decrease perinatal mortality and morbidity. Placental volume, measured with commercially available packages and a novel, semi-automated technique, has been shown to predict small for gestational age babies. Placental morphology measured in 2-D in the second trimester and ex-vivo post delivery, correlates with FGR. This has also been investigated using 2-D estimates of diameter and site of cord insertion obtained using the Virtual Organ Computer-aided AnaLysis (VOCAL) software. Data is presented describing a pilot study of a novel 3-D method for defining compactness of placental shape. We prospectively recruited women with a singleton pregnancy and BMI of <35. A 3-D ultrasound scan was performed between 11 and 13 + 6 weeks' gestation. The placental volume, total placental surface area and the area of the utero-placental interface were calculated using our validated technique. From these we generated dimensionless indices including sphericity (ψ), standardised placental volume (sPlaV) and standardised functional area (sFA) using Buckingham π theorem. The marker for FGR used was small for gestational age, defined as <10th customised birth weight centile (cSGA). Regression analysis examined which of the morphometric indices were independent predictors of cSGA. Data were collected for 143 women, 20 had cSGA babies. Only sPlaV and sFA were significantly correlated to birth weight (p < 0.001). Regression demonstrated all dimensionless indices were inter-dependent co-factors. ROC curves showed no advantage for using sFA over the simpler sPlaV. The generated placental indices are not independent of placental volume this early in gestation. It is hoped that another placental ultrasound marker based on vascularity can improve the prediction of FGR offered by a model based on placental volume.