Reflected hemodynamic waves influence the pattern of Doppler ultrasound waveforms along the umbilical arteries

John G. Sled, Greg Stortz, Lindsay S. Cahill, Natasha Milligan, Viji Ayyathurai, Lena Serghides, Eric Morgen, Viola Seravalli, Cassandra Delp, Cyrethia McShane, Ahmet Baschat, John Kingdom, Christopher K. Macgowan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The pulsatile pattern of blood motion measured by Doppler ultrasound within the umbilical artery is known to contain useful diagnostic information and is widely used to monitor pregnancies at risk of fetal growth restriction or stillbirth. Animal studies have identified reflected pressure waves traveling counter to the direction of blood flow as an important factor in the shape of these waveforms. In the present study, we establish a method to measure reflected waves in the human umbilical artery and assess their influence on blood velocity pulsation. Ninety-five pregnant women were recruited from a general obstetrics clinic between 26 and 37 wk of gestation and examined by Doppler ultrasound. Blood velocity waveforms were recorded for each umbilical artery at three locations along the umbilical cord. With the use of a computational procedure, a pair of forward and reverse propagating waves was identified to explain the variation in observed Doppler ultrasound waveforms along the cord. Among the data sets that met data quality requirements, waveforms in 93 of the 130 arteries examined agreed with the wave reflection model to within 1.5% and showed reflections ranging in magnitude from 3 to 52% of the forward wave amplitude. Strong reflections were associated with large differences in pulsatility between the fetal and placental ends of the cord. As reflections arise from transitions in the biomechanical properties of blood vessels, these observations provide a plausible mechanism for the link between abnormal waveforms and clinically significant placental pathology and could lead to more precise screening methods for detecting pregnancies complicated by placental disease. NEW & NOTEWORTHY The pulsatile pattern of blood motion measured by Doppler ultrasound within the umbilical artery is known to contain useful diagnostic information and is widely used to monitor pregnancies at risk of fetal growth restriction. We demonstrate based on a study of 95 pregnant women that the shape of these umbilical artery waveforms is explained by the presence of a reflected pressure wave traveling counter to the direction of blood flow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H1105-H1112
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Volume316
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2019

Keywords

  • Doppler ultrasound
  • Hemodynamics
  • Umbilical artery
  • Wave reflection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)

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