Practice variation in diagnosis, monitoring and management of fetal growth restriction in the Netherlands

Mauritia Catharina Marijnen*, Stefanie Elisabeth Damhuis, Maddy Smies, Sanne Jehanne Gordijn, Wessel Ganzevoort

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

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    Objectives: Fetal growth restriction (FGR) is a condition characterized by its complexity in diagnosis and management. There is a need for early accurate diagnosis, evidence-based monitoring and management of FGR to improve neonatal outcomes. This study evaluated differences and similarities in protocols of Dutch hospitals in the approach of (suspected) FGR in the context of the national guideline.

    Study design: FGR protocols were collected from Dutch hospitals between November 2019 and June 2020. Collected data were coded for further analysis and categorized in eight predetermined key domains of definition, preventive measures, testing, referral, monitoring strategies, interventions, mode of delivery and pathologic placenta examination.

    Results: 55 of 71 approached hospitals (78 %) responded to the request and 54 protocols (76 %) were obtained. Protocols used variable definitions of FGR, and management was mostly based on fetal biometry results in combination with Doppler results (n = 47, 87 %). In pregnancies with an abdominal circumference (AC) or an estimated fetal weight (EFW) <10th percentile with normal Doppler results, induction of labour was recommended ≥37 weeks (n = 1, 2 %), ≥38-40 weeks (n = 23, 43 %); ≥41 weeks (n = 1, 2 %) or not specified (n = 29, 54 %). In case of an umbilical artery (UA) Doppler pulsatility index >95th percentile, (preterm) labour induction was recommended in the majority of the protocols regardless of fetal size (≥36 weeks: n = 2, 4 %; ≥37 weeks: n = 41, 76 %, not stated: n = 11, 20 %).

    Conclusion: This study found practice variation in all predetermined domains of FGR protocols of Dutch hospitals, underscoring the complexity of the condition. The differences found in this study feed the research agenda that informs the process of improving obstetric care by better identification of the fetus at risk for consequences of FGR, improving evidence-based monitoring strategies to identify (imminent) fetal hypoxia, and more accurate timing of delivery.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)191-198
    Number of pages8
    JournalEuropean Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Biology
    Publication statusPublished - Sep-2022


    • Cerebroplacental ratio
    • Doppler velocimetry
    • Fetal growth restriction
    • Practice variation
    • Small for gestational age

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