Placental pulsatility index: a new, more sensitive parameter for predicting adverse outcome in pregnancies suspected of fetal growth restriction

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Introduction: The pulsatility indices of the umbilical and uterine arteries are used as the surrogate measures of utero-placental perfusion. Combining the two might simplify the evaluation of total placental vascular impedance, possibly improve prediction of adverse outcomes, and help identify pregnancies with suspected fetal growth restriction that need more intense surveillance. Material and methods: Umbilical and uterine blood flow velocities were recorded using pulsed-wave Doppler in a longitudinal study of 53 low-risk pregnancies (248 observations) during 20–40 weeks of gestation. Pulsatility indices was calculated for each of these vessels. A new placental pulsatility index was constructed as: (umbilical artery pulsatility index + mean of the left and right uterine artery pulsatility indices)/2, and mean +2 SD defined as abnormal. Gestational age-specific reference percentiles were calculated for the second half of pregnancy and related to values obtained from 340 pregnancies with suspected intra-uterine growth restriction to test its ability to predict adverse pregnancy outcome. Results: The placental pulsatility index was closely associated with gestational age and decreased with advancing gestation in normal pregnancy. The placental pulsatility index had a higher sensitivity and comparable specificity in predicting adverse outcome in pregnancies suspected of intra-uterine fetal growth restriction when compared with conventional umbilical and uterine artery pulsatility indices. Conclusions: The new placental pulsatility index, reflecting placental vascular impedance on both the fetal and maternal side of placenta, improves prediction of adverse outcome in pregnancies suspected of intra-uterine fetal growth restriction.


  • Saemundur Gudmundsson
  • Kari Flo
  • Gisela Ghosh
  • Tom Wilsgaard
  • Ganesh Acharya
External organisations
  • Skåne University Hospital
  • University Hospital of North Norway
  • UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø
  • Karolinska Institutet
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine


  • Doppler, fetal growth restriction, Placenta pulsatility index, pregnancy, small for gestational age, umbilical artery, uterine artery
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-222
Number of pages7
JournalActa Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Feb 1
Publication categoryResearch