Splenic artery Doppler peak systolic velocity predicts severe fetal anemia in rhesus disease

Ray Bahado-Singh, U. Oz, O. Deren, E. Kovanchi, C. D. Hsu, J. Copel, G. Mari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: We sought to determine whether main splenic artery Doppler peak systolic velocity predicts severe anemia in the rhesus-alloimmunized fetus. STUDY DESIGN: Splenic artery Doppler peak systolic velocity was obtained before cordocentesis in rhesus-alloimmunized fetuses. Normative values for mean peak systolic velocity based on gestational age were obtained cross-sectionally from a separate group of 144 normal fetuses. The peak systolic velocity values in the study group were expressed as multiples of the median for gestation, and threshold values were used as a screening test for severe anemia. The hemoglobin deficit was defined as mean hemoglobin for gestation minus measured hemoglobin. A hemoglobin deficit value of ≥5 g/dL was used to define severe anemia. We used the peak systolic velocity to screen for severe anemia in the overall study group and the subgroups with or without prior transfusions. RESULTS: The study population consisted of 26 singleton nonhydropic fetuses in which cordocentesis and Doppler measurements were performed on a total of 55 occasions. The mean gestational age and standard deviation at cordocentesis was 29.6 ± 4.0 weeks. Severe anemia was noted in 20% of fetal cord blood specimens obtained. On the basis of a receiver operating characteristic curve, a peak systolic velocity of ≥1.4 multiples of the median had a detection rate of 100%, with a false-positive rate of 20.8% in the subgroup with no prior transfusion (relative risk, 4.8; 95% confidence interval, 2.2-10.5). For peak systolic velocity threshold of ≥1.50 multiples of the median, corresponding values in the group with one prior transfusion were 80% and 12.5%, respectively (relative risk, 2.5; 95% confidence interval, 1.2-5.3). There was no risk of severe anemia with a peak systolic velocity below the median for gestation. CONCLUSION: Fetal hydrops is rare, with a hemoglobin deficit of <5 g/dL. In the first such report the main splenic artery peak systolic velocity was noted to be a strong predictor of severe anemia. For the overall population, all such instances could be diagnosed while cordocentesis was performed 22.7% of the time. There is no risk of severe anemia with Doppler peak systolic velocities below the median for gestational age. The measurement is easily obtained and should be investigated as a clinical tool for minimizing the necessity for cordocentesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1222-1226
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Rhesus alloimmunization
  • Splenic artery Doppler

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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