Publications by authors named "Tiziana Frusca"

113 Publications

Perinatal and 2-year neurodevelopmental outcome in late preterm fetal compromise: the TRUFFLE 2 randomised trial protocol.

BMJ Open 2022 Apr 15;12(4):e055543. Epub 2022 Apr 15.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria.

Introduction: Following the detection of fetal growth restriction, there is no consensus about the criteria that should trigger delivery in the late preterm period. The consequences of inappropriate early or late delivery are potentially important yet practice varies widely around the world, with abnormal findings from fetal heart rate monitoring invariably leading to delivery. Indices derived from fetal cerebral Doppler examination may guide such decisions although there are few studies in this area. We propose a randomised, controlled trial to establish the optimum method of timing delivery between 32 weeks and 36 weeks 6 days of gestation. We hypothesise that delivery on evidence of cerebral blood flow redistribution reduces a composite of perinatal poor outcome, death and short-term hypoxia-related morbidity, with no worsening of neurodevelopmental outcome at 2 years.

Methods And Analysis: Women with non-anomalous singleton pregnancies 32+0 to 36+6 weeks of gestation in whom the estimated fetal weight or abdominal circumference is <10th percentile or has decreased by 50 percentiles since 18-32 weeks will be included for observational data collection. Participants will be randomised if cerebral blood flow redistribution is identified, based on umbilical to middle cerebral artery pulsatility index ratio values. Computerised cardiotocography (cCTG) must show normal fetal heart rate short term variation (≥4.5 msec) and absence of decelerations at randomisation. Randomisation will be 1:1 to immediate delivery or delayed delivery (based on cCTG abnormalities or other worsening fetal condition). The primary outcome is poor condition at birth and/or fetal or neonatal death and/or major neonatal morbidity, the secondary non-inferiority outcome is 2-year infant general health and neurodevelopmental outcome based on the Parent Report of Children's Abilities-Revised questionnaire.

Ethics And Dissemination: The Study Coordination Centre has obtained approval from London-Riverside Research Ethics Committee (REC) and Health Regulatory Authority (HRA). Publication will be in line with NIHR Open Access policy.

Trial Registration Number: Main sponsor: Imperial College London, Reference: 19QC5491. Funders: NIHR HTA, Reference: 127 976. Study coordination centre: Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Du Cane Road, London, W12 0HS with Centre for Trials Research, College of Biomedical & Life Sciences, Cardiff University. IRAS Project ID: 266 400. REC reference: 20/LO/0031. ISRCTN registry: 76 016 200.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2021-055543DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9014041PMC
April 2022

Short-term morbidity and types of intrapartum hypoxia in the newborn with metabolic acidaemia: a retrospective cohort study.

BJOG 2022 Mar 3. Epub 2022 Mar 3.

Unit of Surgical Sciences, Obstetrics and Gynaecology Unit, Department of Medicine and Surgery, University of Parma, Parma, Italy.

Objectives: To assess labour characteristics in relation to the occurrence of Composite Adverse neonatal Outcome (CAO) within a cohort of fetuses with metabolic acidaemia.

Design: Retrospective cohort study.

Setting: Three Italian tertiary maternity units.

Population: 431 neonates born with acidaemia ≥36 weeks.

Methods: Intrapartum CTG traces were assigned to one of these four types of labour hypoxia: acute, subacute, gradually evolving and chronic hypoxia. The presence of CAO was defined by the occurrence of at least one of the following: Sarnat Score grade ≥2, seizures, hypothermia and death <7 days from birth.

Main Outcome Measures: To compare the type of hypoxia on the intrapartum CTG traces among the acidaemic neonates with and without CAO.

Results: The occurrence of a CAO was recorded in 15.1% of neonates. At logistic regression analysis, the duration of the hypoxia was the only parameter associated with CAO in the case of an acute or subacute pattern (odds ratio [OR] 1.3; 95% CI 1.02-1.6 and OR 1.04; 95% CI 1.0-1.1, respectively), whereas both the duration of the hypoxic insult and the time from PROM to delivery were associated with CAO in those with a gradually evolving pattern (OR 1.13; 95% CI 1.01-1.3 and OR 1.04; 95% CI 1.0-1.7, respectively). The incidence of CAO was higher in fetuses with chronic antepartum hypoxia than in those showing CTG features of intrapartum hypoxia (64.7 vs. 13.0%; P < 0.001).

Conclusions: The frequency of CAO seems related to the duration and the type of the hypoxic injury, being higher in fetuses showing CTG features of antepartum chronic hypoxia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1471-0528.17133DOI Listing
March 2022

Achieving an appropriate cesarean birth (CB) rate and analyzing the changes using the Robson Ten-Group Classification System (TGCS): Lessons from a Tertiary Care Hospital in Italy.

Birth 2022 Feb 3. Epub 2022 Feb 3.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospital of Parma, Parma, Italy.

Background: To describe the interventions that were implemented at a Tertiary University Hospital and how they affected the rate of cesarean birth (CB) and main obstetrics and neonatal outcomes.

Study Design: An analysis of the contemporaneously collected data from all deliveries that occurred from 2014 to 2018. Major obstetric and neonatal outcomes were analyzed and grouped according to the Ten-Group Classification System (TGCS).

Results: A significant decrease in CB rates, from 28.4% to 23.0% (P < 0.001), was found over the study period. Although the relative sizes of both nulliparous (groups 1 + 2) and multiparous (groups 3 + 4) women remained stable over the study period, a significantly higher incidence of CB was reported in 2014 for both groups, compared with 2018 (2.6% vs. 13.0%, P < 0.001 for nulliparous women and 7.5% vs. 3.3%, P < 0.001 for multiparous women). In contrast, the relative size of Group 5 was significantly lower in 2014 than in 2018 (9.9% vs. 11.5%, P = 0.003), but a 13.3% reduction in CB was also reported for this group. No significant differences were noted in the occurrence of major obstetrics and neonatal outcomes that were reported.

Conclusions: A reduction in CB rate may be safely achieved through implementing a multifaceted strategy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/birt.12612DOI Listing
February 2022

Clinical Opinion: The diagnosis and management of suspected fetal growth restriction: an evidence-based approach.

Am J Obstet Gynecol 2022 03 10;226(3):366-378. Epub 2022 Jan 10.

Department of Obstetrics and Fetal Medicine, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany.

This study reviewed the literature about the diagnosis, antepartum surveillance, and time of delivery of fetuses suspected to be small for gestational age or growth restricted. Several guidelines have been issued by major professional organizations, including the International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine. The differences in recommendations, in particular about Doppler velocimetry of the ductus venosus and middle cerebral artery, have created confusion among clinicians, and this review has intended to clarify and highlight the available evidence that is pertinent to clinical management. A fetus who is small for gestational age is frequently defined as one with an estimated fetal weight of <10th percentile. This condition has been considered syndromic and has been frequently attributed to fetal growth restriction, a constitutionally small fetus, congenital infections, chromosomal abnormalities, or genetic conditions. Small for gestational age is not synonymous with fetal growth restriction, which is defined by deceleration of fetal growth determined by a change in fetal growth velocity. An abnormal umbilical artery Doppler pulsatility index reflects an increased impedance to flow in the umbilical circulation and is considered to be an indicator of placental disease. The combined finding of an estimated fetal weight of <10th percentile and abnormal umbilical artery Doppler velocimetry has been widely accepted as indicative of fetal growth restriction. Clinical studies have shown that the gestational age at diagnosis can be used to subclassify suspected fetal growth restriction into early and late, depending on whether the condition is diagnosed before or after 32 weeks of gestation. The early type is associated with umbilical artery Doppler abnormalities, whereas the late type is often associated with a low pulsatility index in the middle cerebral artery. A large randomized clinical trial indicated that in the context of early suspected fetal growth restriction, the combination of computerized cardiotocography and fetal ductus venosus Doppler improves outcomes, such that 95% of surviving infants have a normal neurodevelopmental outcome at 2 years of age. A low middle cerebral artery pulsatility index is associated with an adverse perinatal outcome in late fetal growth restriction; however, there is no evidence supporting its use to determine the time of delivery. Nonetheless, an abnormality in middle cerebral artery Doppler could be valuable to increase the surveillance of the fetus at risk. We propose that fetal size, growth rate, uteroplacental Doppler indices, cardiotocography, and maternal conditions (ie, hypertension) according to gestational age are important factors in optimizing the outcome of suspected fetal growth restriction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajog.2021.11.1357DOI Listing
March 2022

Inappropriate left ventricular mass after HELLP syndrome inappropriate LVM after HELLP syndrome.

Pregnancy Hypertens 2022 Mar 12;27:16-22. Epub 2021 Nov 12.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, GROW School for Oncology and Developmental Biology, Maastricht University Medical Center (MUMC), the Netherlands; Cardiovascular Research Institute Maastricht (CARIM), Maastricht, the Netherlands; Department of Cardiology, Heart & Vascular Centre, Maastricht University Medical Center (MUMC), the Netherlands.

Objectives: Excessive left ventricular mass (LVM) results in inefficient LV work with energy waste leading to a negative prognostic effect. We aimed at investigating the presence of inappropriate LVM and calculating the myocardial mechano-energetic efficiency index (MEEi) in former pre-eclamptic (PE) women (with or without HELLP syndrome) compared to women who experienced HELLP syndrome without PE.

Study Design: In this cross-sectional study, women with a history of normotensive HELLP (n = 32), PE without HELLP (n = 59), and PE with HELLP (n = 101) underwent echocardiography as part of the clinical CV work-up after their complicated pregnancies from 6 months to 4 years postpartum. We excluded women with comorbidities, including chronic hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and obesity.

Main Outcome Measures: LVM excess was calculated as the ratio between observed LVM and predicted LVM (by sex, stroke work and height), while MEEi was considered as the ratio between stroke work and "double product" (to approximate energy consumption), indexed to LVM.

Results: LV hypertrophy was present in 8-14% and concentric remodeling in 31-42% of women, without intergroup difference. LVM was inappropriate in one-third of normotensive former HELLP and in about one-half of PE with or without HELLP, with no difference among groups. Accordingly, without nominal difference, MEEi showed a tendency towards lower values in former pre-eclamptic individuals.

Conclusions: Women with a history of HELLP syndrome, independently from the presence/absence of PE, showed inappropriate LVM in the first 4 years after delivery, which may partially explain the elevated CV risk in these women compared to the general female population.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.preghy.2021.11.003DOI Listing
March 2022

Role of prenatal magnetic resonance imaging in fetuses with isolated severe ventriculomegaly at neurosonography: A multicenter study.

Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol 2021 Dec 23;267:105-110. Epub 2021 Oct 23.

Department of Medicine and Surgery, Unit of Surgical Sciences, Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Parma, Italy.

Objective: The aim of this study was to report the rate of additional anomalies detected exclusively at prenatal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in fetuses with isolated severe ventriculomegaly undergoing neurosonography.

Method: Multicenter, retrospective, cohort study involving 20 referral fetal medicine centers in Italy, United Kingdom, Spain and Denmark. Inclusion criteria were fetuses affected by isolated severe ventriculomegaly (≥15 mm), defined as ventriculomegaly with normal karyotype and no other additional central nervous system (CNS) and extra-CNS anomalies on ultrasound. In all cases, a multiplanar assessment of fetal brain as suggested by ISUOG guidelines on fetal neurosonography had been performed. The primary outcome was the rate of additional CNS anomalies detected exclusively at fetal MRI within two weeks from neurosonography. Subgroup analyses according to gestational age at MRI (
Results: 187 fetuses with a prenatal diagnosis of isolated severe ventriculomegaly on neurosonography were included in the analysis. Additional structural anomalies were detected exclusively at prenatal MRI in 18.1% of cases. When considering the type of anomaly, malformations of cortical development were detected on MRI in 32.4% cases, while midline or acquired (hypoxemic/hemorrhagic) lesions were detected in 26.5% and 14.7% of cases, respectively. There was no difference in the rate of additional anomalies when stratifying the analysis according to either gestational age at MRI or laterality of the lesion. At multivariate logistic regression analysis, the presence of additional anomalies only found at MRI was significantly higher in bilateral compared versus unilateral ventriculomegaly (OR: 4.37, 95% CI 1.21-15.76; p = 0.04), while neither maternal body mass index, age, severity of ventricular dilatation, interval between ultrasound and MRI, nor gestational age at MRI were associated with the likelihood of detecting associated anomalies at MRI.

Conclusion: The rate of associated anomalies detected exclusively at prenatal MRI in fetuses with isolated severe ventriculomegaly is lower than previously reported, but higher compared to isolated mild and moderate ventriculomegaly. Fetal MRI should be considered as a part of the prenatal assessment of fetuses presenting with isolated severe ventriculomegaly at neurosonography.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejogrb.2021.10.014DOI Listing
December 2021

Fetoscopic laser ablation therapy in monochorionic diamniotic twin pregnancies with twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome treated at a single centre over 10 years: a retrospective study.

J Perinat Med 2022 Jan 15;50(1):34-41. Epub 2021 Sep 15.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Spedali Civili, Brescia, Italy.

Objectives: To review experience with fetoscopic laser ablation of placental anastomoses to treat monochorionic diamniotic (MCDA) twin pregnancies complicated by twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) in a single centre over a ten-year period.

Methods: A retrospective study on 142 MCDA twin pregnancies complicates by TTTS treated with equatorial laser ablation of placental anastomoses (2008-2018). Solomon technique was also applied after 2013. Survival rates, neonatal outcome, intraoperative and post-laser complications were recorded, and prognostic factors analysed.

Results: A total of 133 cases were included in the final analysis; 41 patients were at stage II (30.8%), 73 were at stage III (62.9%), while only 12 (9%) at stage I and two patients (1.7%) at stage IV. Solomon technique was applied in 39 cases (29.3%). Survival of both twins was 51.1% (68/133), of a single twin 20.3% (27/133), and of at least one 71.5% (95/133), with an overall survival of 61.3% (163/266). TAPS and recurrent TTTS occurred in 8 (6%) and 15 (11.3%) patients. Survival of both fetuses increased over time (44.6 vs. 57.3%). A posterior placenta (p<0.003) and the use of the Solomon technique (p<0.02) were more frequent in cases with survival of both fetuses, while TTTS recurrence was significantly associated to the loss of one or two fetuses (p<0.01). Such associations were confirmed at logistic regression analysis.

Conclusions: Survival of both twins can improve over time and seems to be favourably associated with a placenta in the posterior location and the use of the Solomon technique.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/jpm-2021-0058DOI Listing
January 2022

Antepartum evaluation of the obstetric conjugate at transabdominal 2D ultrasound: A feasibility study.

Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 2021 Oct 26;100(10):1917-1923. Epub 2021 Jul 26.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospital of Parma, Parma, Italy.

Introduction: The obstetric conjugate represents the shortest anteroposterior diameter of the birth canal and it reflects the capacity of the pelvic inlet to allow the passage and the engagement of the fetal head. The antepartum evaluation of this parameter may be attempted at digital examination to predict the risk of cephalopelvic disproportion, but the accuracy of clinical pelvimetry is notoriously poor. The aim of our study was to describe the sonographic measurement of the obstetric conjugate at transabdominal 2D-ultrasound and to assess its reproducibility.

Material And Methods: This is a prospective cohort study conducted at a tertiary University hospital. A non-consecutive series of pregnant women with uncomplicated singleton pregnancies attending the antenatal clinic for routine booking from 34 weeks of gestation onward were included. The ultrasound probe was longitudinally placed above the level of the symphysis and the interpubic fibrocartilaginous disk was visualized. Then the promontory was identified as the most prominent segment of the sacral vertebral column. The obstetric conjugate was measured as the distance between the inner edge of the interpubic disk and the promontory. The inter- and intraobserver repeatability of this measurement was calculated using the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) and the Bland-Altman method.

Results: In all, 119 women were considered eligible for the study; of these, 111/119 (93.3%) women were included in the analysis with a median gestational age of 36.0 (35.0-37.0) weeks. The mean obstetric conjugate measurement was 11.4 ± 0.93 mm for the first operator and 11.4 ± 0.91 mm for the second operator. The overall interobserver ICC was 0.95 (95% [confidence interval] CI 0.92-0.96) and the overall intraobserver ICC was 0.97 (95% CI 0.96-0.98). Limits of agreement ranged from -0.84 to 0.80 for interobserver measures and from -0.64 to 0.62 for intraobserver measures. The degree of reliability was also analyzed for women with a body mass index ≥30 and for women with a gestational age ≥37 weeks. The inter- and intraobserver ICCs were respectively 0.97 (95% CI 0.90-0.98) and 0.98 (0.95-0.99) in the former group and 0.96 (95% CI 0.93-0.98) and 0.97 (95% CI 0.95-0.98) in the latter group.

Conclusions: Our study demonstrated that among pregnant women at term gestation, sonographic measurement of the obstetric conjugate is feasible and reproducible.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/aogs.14226DOI Listing
October 2021

Maternal myocardial dysfunction after hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelets syndrome: a speckle-tracking study.

J Hypertens 2021 10;39(10):1956-1963

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, GROW School for Oncology and Developmental Biology, Maastricht University Medical Center (MUMC), The Netherlands.

Objectives: Pregnancy complicated by pre-eclampsia (PE) and hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelets (HELLP) syndrome is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular (CV) diseases later in life. Subclinical cardiac alterations precede eminent CV diseases. Speckle-tracking echocardiography (STE) is an effective method to assess subclinical myocardial dysfunction. We performed a myocardial speckle tracking study to investigate the prevalence of subclinical myocardial dysfunction in former PE patients (with and without HELLP syndrome) compared to normotensive women affected by HELLP syndrome.

Methods: In this cross-sectional retrospective study, women with a history of normotensive HELLP (n = 32), PE without HELLP (n = 59), and PE with HELLP (n = 101) underwent conventional and STE as part of the clinical CV work-up after their complicated pregnancies from 6 months to 4 years postpartum. We excluded women with comorbidities, including chronic hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and obesity.

Results: Women with a history of PE with HELLP syndrome were characterized by a higher prevalence of altered left ventricular circumferential and global longitudinal two-dimensional (2D) strain (74 and 20%, respectively), altered right ventricular longitudinal 2D strain (37%), and left atrial (LA) 2D strain (57%). Moreover, a higher proportion of alterations of biventricular and LA strains was also present in former PE without HELLP as well as in the normotensive HELLP group.

Conclusions: In the first years after a pregnancy complicated by HELLP syndrome, irrespective of whether there was concomitant PE, a higher rate of abnormal STE myocardial function is observed. Therefore, these women may benefit from CV risk management.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/HJH.0000000000002901DOI Listing
October 2021

Three-Dimensional Sonographic Evaluation of the Position of the Fetal Conus Medullaris at First Trimester.

Fetal Diagn Ther 2021 9;48(6):464-471. Epub 2021 Jun 9.

Department of Medicine and Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynecology Unit, University of Parma, Parma, Italy.

Objective: The objective of this study was to assess the position of the conus medullaris (CM) at the first trimester 3D ultrasound in a cohort of structurally normal fetuses.

Methods: This was a multicenter prospective study involving a consecutive series of structurally normal fetuses between 11 and 13 weeks of gestation (CRL between 45 and 84 mm). All fetuses were submitted to 3D transvaginal ultrasound using a sagittal view of the spine as the starting plane of acquisition. At offline analysis, the position of the CM was evaluated by 2 independent operators with a quantitative and a qualitative method: (1) the distance between the most caudal part of the CM and the distal end of the coccyx (CMCd) was measured; (2) a line perpendicular to the fetal spine joining the tip of the CM to the anterior abdominal wall was traced to determine the level of this line in relation to the umbilical cord insertion (conus to abdomen line, CAL). Interobserver agreement for the CCMd was evaluated. Linear regression analysis was used to determine the association between the CMCd and CRL, and a normal range was computed based on the best-fit model. The absence of congenital anomalies was confirmed in all cases after birth.

Results: In the study period between December 2019 and March 2020, 143 fetuses were recruited. In 130 fetuses (90.9%), the visualization of the CM was feasible. The mean value of the CMCd was 1.09 ± 0.16 cm. The 95% limits of agreement for the interobserver variability in measurement of the CMCd were 0.24 and 0.26 cm. The interobserver variability based on the intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC) for the CCMd was good (ICC = 0.81). We found a positive linear relationship between the CCMd and CRL. In all these fetuses, the CAL encountered the abdominal wall at or above the level of the cord insertion.

Conclusion: In normal fetuses, the assessment of the CM position is feasible at the first trimester 3D ultrasound with a good interobserver agreement. The CM level was never found below the fetal umbilical cord insertion, while the CMCd was noted to increase according to the gestational age, confirming the "ascension" of the CM during fetal life.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000516516DOI Listing
November 2021

Monitoring fetal well-being in labor in late fetal growth restriction.

Minerva Obstet Gynecol 2021 Aug 5;73(4):453-461. Epub 2021 May 5.

Unit of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Department of Medicine and Surgery, University of Parma, Parma, Italy.

Late-onset fetal growth restriction (FGR) accounts for approximately 70-80% of all cases of FGR secondary to uteroplacental insufficiency. It is associated with an increased incidence of adverse antepartum and perinatal events, which in most instances result from hypoxic insults either present at the onset of labor or supervening during labor as a result of uterine contractions. Labor represents a stressful event for the fetoplacental unit being uterine contractions associated with an up-to 60% reduction of the uteroplacental perfusion. Intrapartum fetal heart rate monitoring by means of cardiotocography (CTG) currently represents the mainstay for the identification of fetal hypoxia during labor and is recommended for the fetal surveillance during labor in the case of FGR or other conditions associated with an increased risk of intrapartum hypoxia. In this review we discuss the potential implications of an impaired placental function on the intrapartum adaptation to the hypoxic stress and the role of the CTG and alternative techniques for the intrapartum monitoring of the fetal wellbeing in the context of FGR secondary to uteroplacental insufficiency.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.23736/S2724-606X.21.04819-XDOI Listing
August 2021

Conservative treatment for hypervascularised placental polyp with secondary haemoperitoneum: a case report.

Acta Biomed 2021 04 30;92(S1):e2021157. Epub 2021 Apr 30.

Department of Medicine and Surgery, Unit of Surgical Sciences, Obstetrics and Gynecology University of Parma.

Objective: We describe the first case to our knowledge of Hypervascularised placental polyp (HPP) presenting with acute pelvic pain and hemoperitoneum.

Case Report: A 33 years-old woman with a history of medical abortion three months earlier came to our attention complaining acute pelvic pain and vaginal bleeding. Transvaginal (TV) and transabdominal (TA) ultrasound (US) demonstrated a highly vascular intrauterine lesion and intra-abdominal free fluid consistent with a diagnosis of haemoperitoneum. Emergency laparoscopy yielded no intra-abdominal bleeding and was followed by bilateral selective embolization of the uterine arteries due to persistent vaginal bleeding. Hysteroscopy and pathology findings were consistent with a final diagnosis of HPP.

Conclusion: HPP may occur months or years after pregnancy or abortion and the clinical picture of abnormal vaginal bleeding associated with acute abdominal pain and haemoperitoneum should warrant to consider HPP among the differential diagnosis. Clinical and imaging findings need to be considered when planning the conservative management of HPP. Our experience suggests that uterine artery embolization is a safe and effective for the conservative treatment of highly vascularized HPP.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.23750/abm.v92iS1.9559DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8142775PMC
April 2021

A case of postpartum headache post dural puncture. Post Dural Puncture Headache or Reversible Cerebral Vasoconstriction Syndrome - Posterior Reversible Encephalopathy Syndrome?

Acta Biomed 2021 05 4;92(S1):e2021119. Epub 2021 May 4.

Anesthesiology, Critical Care and Pain Medicine Division, Department of Medicine and Surgery, University of Parma, Parma, Italy.

Reversible Cerebral Vasoconstriction Syndrome (RCVS) and Posterior Reversible Encephalopathy Syndrome (PRES) are two rare neurological conditions, clinically characterized by headache. In our case a diagnosis of PDPH was made though imaging showed signs of RCVS-PRES. We present a case of RCVS-PRES in a postpartum woman who presented headache as first symptom and only later experienced seizures. Dural puncture worked as a confounding factor in the clinical postpartum evaluation. We want to focus the attention on changes of clinical characteristics of headache as an important factor to be analysed, in order to have a prompt diagnosis. We therefore propose a diagnostic algorithm. Moreover, we evaluate possible triggers of RCVS and PRES; in our case dural puncture is probably not the trigger, in fact there were no liquoral hypotension signs on imaging.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.23750/abm.v92iS1.10960DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8142776PMC
May 2021

Recommendations for neonatologists and pediatricians working in first level birthing centers on the first communication of genetic disease and malformation syndrome diagnosis: consensus issued by 6 Italian scientific societies and 4 parents' associations.

Ital J Pediatr 2021 Apr 19;47(1):94. Epub 2021 Apr 19.

Department of Health Promotion, Mother and Child Care, Internal Medicine and Medical Specialties "G. D'Alessandro", University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy.

Background: Genetic diseases are chronic conditions with relevant impact on the lives of patients and their families. In USA and Europe it is estimated a prevalence of 60 million affected subjects, 75% of whom are in developmental age. A significant number of newborns are admitted in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) for reasons different from prematurity, although the prevalence of those with genetic diseases is unknown. It is, then, common for the neonatologist to start a diagnostic process on suspicion of a genetic disease or malformation syndrome, or to make and communicate these diagnoses. Many surveys showed that the degree of parental satisfaction with the methods of communication of diagnosis is low. Poor communication may have short and long-term negative effects on health and psychological and social development of the child and his family. We draw up recommendations on this issue, shared by 6 Italian Scientific Societies and 4 Parents' Associations, aimed at making the neonatologist's task easier at the difficult time of communication to parents of a genetic disease/malformation syndrome diagnosis for their child.

Methods: We used the method of the consensus paper. A multidisciplinary panel of experts was first established, based on the clinical and scientific sharing of the thematic area of present recommendations. They were suggested by the Boards of the six Scientific Societies that joined the initiative: Italian Societies of Pediatrics, Neonatology, Human Genetics, Perinatal Medicine, Obstetric and Gynecological Ultrasound and Biophysical Methodologies, and Pediatric Genetic Diseases and Congenital Disabilities. To obtain a deeper and global vision of the communication process, and to reach a better clinical management of patients and their families, representatives of four Parents' Associations were also recruited: Italian Association of Down People, Cornelia de Lange National Volunteer Association, Italian Federation of Rare Diseases, and Williams Syndrome People Association. They worked from September 2019 to November 2020 to achieve a consensus on the recommendations for the communication of a new diagnosis of genetic disease.

Results: The consensus of experts drafted a final document defining the recommendations, for the neonatologist and/or the pediatrician working in a fist level birthing center, on the first communication of genetic disease or malformation syndrome diagnosis. Although there is no universal communication technique to make the informative process effective, we tried to identify a few relevant strategic principles that the neonatologist/pediatrician may use in the relationship with the family. We also summarized basic principles and significant aspects relating to the modalities of interaction with families in a table, in order to create an easy tool for the neonatologist to be applied in the daily care practice. We finally obtained an intersociety document, now published on the websites of the Scientific Societies involved.

Conclusions: The neonatologist/pediatrician is often the first to observe complex syndromic pictures, not always identified before birth, although today more frequently prenatally diagnosed. It is necessary for him to know the aspects of genetic diseases related to communication and bioethics, as well as the biological and clinical ones, which together outline the cornerstones of the multidisciplinary care of these patients. This consensus provide practical recommendations on how to make the first communication of a genetic disease /malformation syndrome diagnosis. The proposed goal is to make easier the informative process, and to implement the best practices in the relationship with the family. A better doctor-patient/family interaction may improve health outcomes of the child and his family, as well as reduce legal disputes with parents and the phenomenon of defensive medicine.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13052-021-01044-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8054427PMC
April 2021

Italian survey on the residents' surgical level in gynecology and obstetrics.

Acta Biomed 2020 09 16;92(1):e2021011. Epub 2020 Sep 16.

Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics of Parma, University of Parma, Parma, Italy.

Purpose: The present study aims to investigate the number of surgical procedures performed by Italian residents and their confidence to carry out different surgeries in obstetrics and gynecology.

Methods: The present study is a national survey including all Italian gynecology and obstetrics senior residents. A questionnaire including 25 questions was provided. The free Google Forms site was used to create the survey. The study was conducted from April to October 2019. The survey started from the University Hospital of Parma, a tertiary hospital, and was sent to all the Italian post-graduation medical school in gynecology and obstetrics. An e-mail was sent to all representative residents in gynecology and obstetrics in Italy, then forwarded to all the senior residents.

Results: Of the 555 residents enrolled, 100 joined the survey (18.2%). The analysis of the different procedures performed by residents has shown that 53%, 57%, and 77% of the residents had never performed a laparotomic, laparoscopic, and vaginal hysterectomy, respectively. The analysis of cesarean section skills has shown that 1% of residents had never performed any simple cesarean section, and 6% of residents had never performed any complex cesarean section. Fifty-two doctors in training had never performed an operative vaginal delivery. Seventy-three and ninety-three residents performed more than thirty uterine curettages and sutures of 1st or 2nd degree tears, respectively.

Conclusions: In Italy, senior residents are generally confident with the low-complexity procedures and also with complex cesarean sections. The number of Italian residents confident to perform a hysterectomy is poor.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.23750/abm.v92i1.10649DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7975951PMC
September 2020

Intrapartum sonographic assessment of the fetal head flexion in protracted active phase of labor and association with labor outcome: a multicenter, prospective study.

Am J Obstet Gynecol 2021 08 4;225(2):171.e1-171.e12. Epub 2021 Mar 4.

Obstetrics and Gynecology Unit, Department of Medicine and Surgery, University of Parma, Parma, Italy. Electronic address:

Background: To date, no research has focused on the sonographic quantification of the degree of flexion of the fetal head in relation to the labor outcome in women with protracted active phase of labor.

Objective: This study aimed to assess the relationship between the transabdominal sonographic indices of fetal head flexion and the mode of delivery in women with protracted active phase of labor.

Study Design: Prospective evaluation of women with protracted active phase of labor recruited across 3 tertiary maternity units. Eligible cases were submitted to transabdominal ultrasound for the evaluation of the fetal head position and flexion, which was measured by means of the occiput-spine angle in fetuses in nonocciput posterior position and by means of the chin-to-chest angle in fetuses in occiput posterior position. The occiput-spine angle and the chin-to-chest angle were compared between women who had vaginal delivery and those who had cesarean delivery. Cases where obstetrical intervention was performed solely based on suspected fetal distress were excluded.

Results: A total of 129 women were included, of whom 43 (33.3%) had occiput posterior position. Spontaneous vaginal delivery, instrumental delivery, and cesarean delivery were recorded in 66 (51.2%), 17 (13.1%), and 46 (35.7%) cases, respectively. A wider occiput-spine angle was measured in women who had vaginal delivery compared with those submitted to cesarean delivery owing to labor dystocia (126±14 vs 115±24; P<.01). At the receiver operating characteristic curve, the area under the curve was 0.675 (95% confidence interval, 0.538-0.812; P<.01), and the optimal occiput-spine angle cutoff value discriminating between cases of vaginal delivery and those delivered by cesarean delivery was 109°. A narrower chin-to-chest angle was measured in cases who had vaginal delivery compared with those undergoing cesarean delivery (27±33 vs 56±28 degrees; P<.01). The area under the curve of the chin-to-chest angle in relation to the mode of delivery was 0.758 (95% confidence interval, 0.612-0.904; P<.01), and the optimal cutoff value discriminating between vaginal delivery and cesarean delivery was 33.0°.

Conclusion: In women with protracted active phase of labor, the sonographic demonstration of fetal head deflexion in occiput posterior and in nonocciput posterior fetuses is associated with an increased incidence of cesarean delivery owing to labor dystocia. Such findings suggest that intrapartum ultrasound may contribute in the categorization of the etiology of labor dystocia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajog.2021.02.035DOI Listing
August 2021

Management of Infants with Brief Resolved Unexplained Events (BRUE) and Apparent Life-Threatening Events (ALTE): A RAND/UCLA Appropriateness Approach.

Life (Basel) 2021 Feb 22;11(2). Epub 2021 Feb 22.

Pediatric Clinic, Department of Medicine and Surgery, University of Parma, 43126 Parma, Italy.

Unexpected events of breath, tone, and skin color change in infants are a cause of considerable distress to the caregiver and there is still debate on their appropriate management. The aim of this study is to survey the trend in prevention, decision-making, and management of brief resolved unexplained events (BRUE)/apparent life-threatening events (ALTE) and to develop a shared protocol among hospitals and primary care pediatricians regarding hospital admission criteria, work-up and post-discharge monitoring of patients with BRUE/ALTE. For the study purpose, a panel of 54 experts was selected to achieve consensus using the RAND/UCLA appropriateness method. Twelve scenarios were developed: one addressed to primary prevention of ALTE and BRUE, and 11 focused on hospital management of BRUE and ALTE. For each scenario, participants were asked to rank each option from '1' (extremely inappropriate) to '9' (extremely appropriate). Results derived from panel meeting and discussion showed several points of agreement but also disagreement with different opinion emerged and the need of focused education on some areas. However, by combining previous recommendations with expert opinion, the application of the RAND/UCLA appropriateness permitted us to drive pediatricians to reasoned and informed decisions in term of evaluation, treatment and follow-up of infants with BRUE/ALTE, reducing inappropriate exams and hospitalisation and highlighting priorities for educational interventions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/life11020171DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7926945PMC
February 2021

Maternal and perinatal outcomes in high compared to low risk pregnancies complicated by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection (phase 2): the World Association of Perinatal Medicine working group on coronavirus disease 2019.

Am J Obstet Gynecol MFM 2021 07 20;3(4):100329. Epub 2021 Feb 20.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Centre for High-Risk Pregnancy and Fetal Care, University of Chieti, Chieti, Italy (Dr Liberati, Dr Sebastiano, Dr Oronzi, Dr Cerra, and Dr Buca).

Background: It has still to be ascertained whether severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection in pregnancy is associated with worse maternal and fetal outcomes compared to low risk gestations.

Objective: This study aimed to evaluate maternal and perinatal outcomes in high- and low-risk pregnancies complicated by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection.

Study Design: This was a multinational retrospective cohort study involving women with laboratory-confirmed severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection from 76 centers from 25 countries in Europe, the United States, South America, Asia, and Australia from April 4, 2020, to October 28, 2020. The primary outcome was a composite measure of maternal mortality and morbidity, including admission to the intensive care unit, use of mechanical ventilation, or death. The secondary outcome was a composite measure of adverse perinatal outcome, including miscarriage, fetal loss, neonatal and perinatal death, and admission to the neonatal intensive care unit. All outcomes were assessed in high- and low-risk pregnancies. Pregnancies were considered high risk in case of either preexisting chronic medical conditions in pregnancy or obstetrical disorders occurring in pregnancy. The Fisher exact test and logistic regression analysis were used to analyze the data.

Results: A total of 887 singleton pregnancies who tested positive for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction of nasal and pharyngeal swab specimens were included in the study. The risk of composite adverse maternal outcomes was higher in high-risk pregnancies than in low-risk pregnancies (odds ratio, 1.52; 95% confidence interval, 1.03-2.24; P=.035). In addition, women carrying high-risk pregnancies were at higher risk of hospital admission (odds ratio, 1.48; 95% confidence interval, 1.07-2.04; P=.002), presence of severe respiratory symptoms (odds ratio, 2.13; 95% confidence interval, 0.41-3.21; P=.001), admission to the intensive care unit (odds ratio, 2.63; 95% confidence interval, 1.42-4.88), and invasive mechanical ventilation (odds ratio, 2.65; 95% confidence interval, 1.19-5.94; P=.002). When exploring perinatal outcomes, high-risk pregnancies were at high risk of adverse perinatal outcomes (odds ratio, 1.78; 95% confidence interval, 0.15-2.72; P=.009). However, such association was mainly because of the higher incidence of miscarriage in high-risk pregnancies compared with that in low-risk pregnancies (5.3% vs 1.6%, P=.008); furthermore, there was no difference in other explored outcomes between the 2 study groups. At logistic regression analysis, maternal age (odds ratio, 1.12; 95% confidence interval, 1.02-1.22; P=.023) and high-risk pregnancy (odds ratio, 4.21; 95% confidence interval, 3.90-5.11; P<.001) were independently associated with adverse maternal outcomes.

Conclusion: High-risk pregnancies complicated by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection were at higher risk of adverse maternal outcomes than low-risk pregnancies complicated by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajogmf.2021.100329DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7896113PMC
July 2021

Maternal hemodynamics, arterial stiffness and elastic aortic properties in twin pregnancy.

Physiol Meas 2021 01 1;41(12):125001. Epub 2021 Jan 1.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy.

Objective: There is scant information about maternal cardiovascular hemodynamic change during twin pregnancies. Aim of the study is to investigate longitudinal changes in maternal arterial stiffness, elastic aortic properties and ventricular-arterial coupling (VAC) in uncomplicated twin pregnancies compared to singleton ones.

Approach: In this prospective longitudinal study, we performed applanation tonometry and transthoracic echocardiography in the first (T1; 10-15 weeks' gestation (w)), second (T2; 19-26 w) and third trimesters (T3; 30-38 w) in women with uncomplicated twin pregnancies, both monochorionic and dichorionic. Heart-rate-corrected augmentation index ([email protected]) was studied as indicator of arterial stiffness. Aortic diameters and elastic properties were calculated. VAC was defined as the ratio between aortic elastance (Ea) and left ventricular end-systolic elastance (Ees). Finally, stroke volume (SV), cardiac output (CO) and total vascular resistance (TVR) were evaluated. The findings were compared to those of women with uncomplicated singleton pregnancies.

Main Results: Thirty women with twin gestations (11 monochorionic) and 30 singleton controls were obtained for analysis. Blood pressure and TVR significantly decreased from T1 to T2 and then rose in T3, with higher values in twins than in singletons. [email protected] showed the same trend in both groups with lower values at T2 in twins. SV and CO linearly increased throughout gestation with no significant intergroup difference. Aortic diameters and elastic properties remained stable throughout gestation, with no significant intergroup differences. Both Ea and Ees were greater (i.e. worse) in twins than in singletons at T1 and T3, showing a significant linear trend towards reduction in the two groups, meaning lower vascular and ventricular loads. Using longitudinal analysis blood pressure, TVR, Ea and Ees depended from both multiple gestation and gestational age.

Significance: In twins, maternal hemodynamics does not seem to undergo more significant changes than in singletons being characterized by higher blood pressures and TVR with no differences in CO, SV, aortic dimensions and elastic properties. Despite VAC is maintained within its normal range, total vascular load (i.e., Ea) resulted higher in twin than singleton pregnancies throughout gestation. It is conceivable that these findings may represent one of the underlying cause for the increased risk of adverse obstetric outcomes described in multiple gestations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1088/1361-6579/abb760DOI Listing
January 2021

Usefulness of an Intrapartum Ultrasound Simulator (IUSim™) for Midwife Training: Results from an RCT.

Fetal Diagn Ther 2021 9;48(2):120-127. Epub 2020 Dec 9.

Department of Medicine and Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynecology Unit, University of Parma, Parma, Italy,

Introduction: We conducted a randomized study to determine whether a training session on a dedicated simulator (IUSim™) would facilitate the midwives in learning the technique of transperineal intrapartum ultrasound.

Methods: Following a 30-min multimedia presentation including images and videos on how to obtain and measure the angle of progression (AoP) and the head-perineum distance (HPD), 6 midwives with no prior experience in intrapartum ultrasound were randomly split into 2 groups: 3 of them were assigned to the "training group" and 3 to the "control group." The midwives belonging to the former group were taught to measure the 2 sonographic parameters during a 3-h practical session conducted on IUSim™ under the supervision of an expert obstetrician. In the following 3 months, all the 6 midwives were asked to independently perform transperineal ultrasound during their clinical practice and to measure on the acquired images either the AoP or the HPD. The sonographic images were examined in blind by the teaching obstetrician who assigned a 0-3 score to the image quality (IQS) and to the measurement quality (MQS).

Results: A total of 48 ultrasound images (24 patients) from 5 midwives were acquired and included in the study analysis. A midwife of the "training group" declined participation after the practical session. Independently from the randomization group, the image quality score (IQS + MQS) was significantly higher for the HPD compared with the AoP (2.5 ± 0.66 vs. 1.79 ± 1.14; p = 0.01). In the training group, the MQS of either AoP (2.66 ± 0.5 vs.1.46 ± 1.45. p = 0.038) and the HPD (2.9 ± 0.33 vs. 1.87 ± 0.83 p = 0.002) was significantly higher in comparison with the control group, while the IQS of both measurements was comparable between the 2 groups (1.91 ± 1.24 vs. 2.25 ± 0.865; p = 0.28).

Conclusion: The use of a dedicated simulator may facilitate the midwives in learning how to measure the AoP and the HPD on transperineal ultrasound images.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000512047DOI Listing
November 2021

Impact of ultrasound guided training in the diagnosis of the fetal head position during labor: A prospective observational study.

Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol 2021 Jan 20;256:308-313. Epub 2020 Nov 20.

Department of Medicine and Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynecology Unit, University of Parma, Parma, Italy. Electronic address:

Objectives: To assess whether the additional training with transabdominal ultrasound may improve the accuracy of the transvaginal digital examination in the assessment of the fetal head position during the active stage of labor.

Methods: Prospective observational study involving 2 residents in their 1 st year of training in Obstetrics with no prior experience in neither transvaginal digital examination nor ultrasound. Women with term, cephalic presenting fetus and active labor with cervical dilation ≥ 8 cm and ruptured membranes were included. In the preliminary phase of the study, the resident A ("blinded") was assigned to assess the fetal head position by transvaginal digital examination, while the resident B ("unmasked") performed transvaginal digital examination following transabdominal ultrasound, which was considered to be the gold standard to determine the fetal head position. After 50 examinations independently performed by each resident in the training phase, a post-training phase of the study was carried out to compare the accuracy of each resident in the diagnosis of fetal head position by digital assessment. The occiput position was eventually confirmed by ultrasound performed by the main investigator.

Results: Over a 6 months period, 90 post-training vaginal examinations were performed by each resident. The number of incorrect diagnoses of head position was higher for the "blinded" resident compared with the "unmasked" resident subjected to the ultrasound training (28/90 or 31.1 % vs 15/90 or 16.7 % p = 0.02). For both residents a wrong diagnosis was more likely with non-OA vs OA fetuses but this difference was statistically significant for the "blinded" Resident (10/20 or 50 % vs 18/70 or 25.7 % p = 0.039) but not for the "unmasked" Resident (5/18 or 27.9 % vs 10/72 or 13.9 % p = 0.16).

Conclusion: The addition of transabdominal ultrasound as a training tool in the determination of the fetal head position during labor seems to improve the accuracy of the transvaginal digital examination in unexperienced residents.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejogrb.2020.11.053DOI Listing
January 2021

STAN: a reappraisal of its clinical usefulness.

Minerva Obstet Gynecol 2021 02 30;73(1):34-44. Epub 2020 Nov 30.

Department of Medicine and Surgery, University of Parma, Parma, Italy -

The automatic analysis of fetal ECG in labor has been introduced as an adjunct of traditional cardiotocography with the aim to improve the identification of fetuses with intrapartum hypoxia. Several randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses have produced conflicting results, with the most recent randomized controlled trial not demonstrating any improvement in either neonatal outcomes or reduction in operative birth rates. The objective of this review article is to present the state of art about the use of STAN technology in labor ward.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.23736/S2724-606X.20.04690-0DOI Listing
February 2021

Intrapartum Doppler ultrasound: where are we now?

Minerva Obstet Gynecol 2021 02 20;73(1):94-102. Epub 2020 Nov 20.

Division of Maternal and Fetal Medicine, Cristo Re Hospital, Tor Vergata University, Rome, Italy.

Intrapartum hypoxic events most commonly occur in low-risk pregnancies with appropriately grown fetuses. Continuous intrapartum monitoring by means of cardiotocography has not demonstrated a reduction in the frequency of adverse perinatal outcome but has been linked with an increase in the caesarean section rate, particularly among women considered at low risk. Available data from the literature suggests that abnormalities in the uterine artery Doppler and in the ratio between fetal cerebral and umbilical Doppler (i.e. cerebroplacental ratio [CPR]) are associated with conditions of subclinical placental function occurring in fetuses who have failed to achieve their growth potential regardless of their actual size. In this review we summarize the available evidence on the use of intrapartum Doppler ultrasound for the fetal surveillance during labor and the identification of the fetuses at risk of intrapartum distress.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.23736/S2724-606X.20.04698-5DOI Listing
February 2021

Hyperechoic amniotic membranes in patients with preterm premature rupture of membranes (p-PROM) and pregnancy outcome.

J Perinat Med 2021 Mar 22;49(3):311-318. Epub 2020 Oct 22.

Department of Medicine and Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynecology Unit, University of Parma, Parma, Italy.

Objectives: The early identification of women with preterm premature rupture of membranes (p-PROM) who are at higher risk of imminent delivery remains challenging. The aim of our study was to evaluate if an increased echogenicity of the amniotic membranes may represent a sonographic marker of impending delivery in women with p-PROM.

Methods: This was a prospective study including women with singleton pregnancies and diagnosis of p-PROM between 22 and 37 gestational weeks. A sonographic examination was performed within 24 h from the hospital admission and the appearance of the amniotic membranes close to the internal os was specifically evaluated. The membranes were defined as hyperechoic when their echogenicity was similar to that of the fetal bones or normoechoic in the other cases. The primary aim of the study was to compare the admission to spontaneous onset of labor interval and the pregnancy outcome between the cases of p-PROM with and without hyperechoic membranes.

Results: Overall, 45 women fulfilled the inclusion criteria with similar characteristics at admission. In women with hyperechoic membranes, the admission to spontaneous onset of labor interval was significantly shorter (11.5 [5.3-25.0] vs. 3.0 [1.5-9.0] p=0.04) compared to women with normo-echoic membranes. At binomial logistic regression after adjustment for GA at hospital admission, the presence of hyperechoic membranes was found as the only independent predictor of spontaneous onset of labor ≤72 h (aOR: 6.1; 95% CI: 1.0-36.9).

Conclusions: The presence of hyperechoic membranes is associated with a 6-fold higher incidence of spontaneous onset of labor within 72 h independently from the gestational age at p-PROM.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/jpm-2020-0223DOI Listing
March 2021

Hemodynamic findings in normotensive women with small-for-gestational-age and growth-restricted fetuses.

Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 2021 05 29;100(5):876-883. Epub 2020 Nov 29.

Department of Medicine and Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynecology Unit, University of Parma, Parma, Italy.

Introduction: Fetal growth restriction (FGR) in most instances is a consequence of primary placental dysfunction due to inadequate trophoblastic invasion. Maternal cardiac maladaptation to pregnancy has been proposed as a possible determinant of placental insufficiency and impaired fetal growth. This study aimed to compare the maternal hemodynamic parameters between normotensive women with small-for-gestational-age (SGA) and FGR fetuses and to evaluate their correlation with neonatal outcome.

Material And Methods: An observational cohort study including singleton pregnancies referred to our tertiary care center due to fetal smallness. At the time of diagnosis, fetuses were classified as SGA or FGR according to the Delphi consensus criteria, and pregnant women underwent hemodynamic assessment using a cardiac output monitor. A group of women with singleton uncomplicated pregnancies ar ≥35 weeks of gestation were recruited as controls. Cardiac output, systemic vascular resistance, stroke volume, and heart rate were measured and compared among the three groups (controls vs FGR vs SGA). The correlation between antenatal findings and neonatal outcome was also evaluated by multivariate logistic regression analysis.

Results: A total of 51 women with fetal smallness were assessed at 34.8 ± 2.6 weeks. SGA and FGR were diagnosed in 22 and 29 cases, respectively. The control group included 61 women assessed at 36.5 ± 0.8 weeks of gestation. Women with FGR had a lower cardiac output Z-score (respectively, -1.3 ± 1.2 vs -0.4 ± 0.8 vs -0.2 ± 1.0; P < .001) and a higher systemic vascular resistance Z-score (respectively, 1.2 ± 1.2 vs 0.2 ± 1.1 vs -0.02 ± 1.2; P < .001) compared with both SGA and controls, whereas no difference in the hemodynamic parameters was found between women with SGA and controls. The incidence of neonatal intensive care unit admission did not differ between SGA and FGR fetuses (18.2% vs 41.4%; P = .13), but FGR fetuses had a longer hospitalization compared with SGA fetuses (14.2 ± 17.7 vs 4.5 ± 1.6 days; P = .02). Multivariate analysis showed that the cardiac output Z-score at diagnosis (P = .012) and the birthweight Z-score (P = .007) were independent predictors of the length of neonatal hospitalization.

Conclusions: Different maternal hemodynamic profiles characterize women with SGA or FGR fetuses. Furthermore, a negative correlation was found between the maternal cardiac output and the length of neonatal hospitalization.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/aogs.14026DOI Listing
May 2021

Intrapartum fetal heart rate between 150 and 160 bpm at or after 40 weeks and labor outcome.

Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 2021 03 1;100(3):548-554. Epub 2020 Nov 1.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Parma, Parma, Italy.

Introduction: A baseline fetal heart rate between 110 and 160 bpm is considered normal. However, among normal fetuses the average baseline heart rate has been shown to diminish progressively and the 90th centile of the fetal heart rate at 40 weeks of gestation has been consistently found at around 150 bpm. The aim of our study was to assess the labor and neonatal outcome of fetuses at 40 gestational weeks or beyond, whose intrapartum baseline fetal heart rate was between 150 and 160 bpm.

Material And Methods: Retrospective cohort study including singleton pregnancies with spontaneous onset of labor, gestational age between 40 and 42 weeks, category I CTG trace according to the FIGO guidelines 2015 with baseline fetal heart rate between 110 and 160 bpm during the first 60 minutes of active labor. Exclusion criteria were maternal hyperpyrexia at admission, fetal arrhythmias, maternal tachycardia (>110 bpm) and uterine tachysystole (>5 contractions/10 minutes). The following outcomes were compared between fetuses with a baseline ranging between 110 and 149 bpm and those with a baseline ranging between 150 and 160 bpm: incidence of meconium-stained amniotic fluid, intrapartum hyperpyrexia, mode of delivery, Apgar at 5 minutes <7, arterial pH <7.1 and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit admission, incidence of a composite adverse neonatal outcome.

Results: In all, 1004 CTG traces were included in the analysis, 860 in Group 110-149 bpm and 144 in Group 150-160 bpm. Group 150-160 bpm had a significantly higher incidence of meconium-stained amniotic fluid (odds ratio [OR] 2.6; 95% CI 1.8-3.8), maternal intrapartum hyperpyrexia (OR 4.7; 95% CI 1.1-14.6), urgent/emergent cesarean section for suspected fetal distress (OR 13.4; 95% CI 3.3-54.3), Apgar <7 at 5th min (OR 9.13; 95% CI 1.5-55.1) and neonatal acidemia (OR 3.5; 95% CI 1.5-55.1). Logistic regression including adjustiing for potential confounders showed that fetal heart rate between 150 and 160 bpm is an independent predictor of meconium-stained amniotic fluid (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 2.2; 95% CI 1.5-3.3), cesarean section during labor for fetal distress (aOR 10.7; 95% CI 2.9-44.6), neonatal acidemia (aOR 2.6; 95% CI 1.1-6.7) and adverse composite neonatal outcome (aOR 2.6; 95% CI 1.2-5.6).

Conclusions: In fetuses at 40 weeks or beyond, an intrapartum fetal heart rate baseline ranging between 150 and 160 bpm seems associated with a higher incidence of labor complications.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/aogs.14024DOI Listing
March 2021

Risk factors associated with adverse fetal outcomes in pregnancies affected by Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): a secondary analysis of the WAPM study on COVID-19.

J Perinat Med 2020 11;48(9):950-958

Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Ospedale di San Leonardo, Castellammare di Stabia, Italy.

Objectives To evaluate the strength of association between maternal and pregnancy characteristics and the risk of adverse perinatal outcomes in pregnancies with laboratory confirmed COVID-19. Methods Secondary analysis of a multinational, cohort study on all consecutive pregnant women with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 from February 1, 2020 to April 30, 2020 from 73 centers from 22 different countries. A confirmed case of COVID-19 was defined as a positive result on real-time reverse-transcriptase-polymerase-chain-reaction (RT-PCR) assay of nasal and pharyngeal swab specimens. The primary outcome was a composite adverse fetal outcome, defined as the presence of either abortion (pregnancy loss before 22 weeks of gestations), stillbirth (intrauterine fetal death after 22 weeks of gestation), neonatal death (death of a live-born infant within the first 28 days of life), and perinatal death (either stillbirth or neonatal death). Logistic regression analysis was performed to evaluate parameters independently associated with the primary outcome. Logistic regression was reported as odds ratio (OR) with 95% confidence interval (CI). Results Mean gestational age at diagnosis was 30.6±9.5 weeks, with 8.0% of women being diagnosed in the first, 22.2% in the second and 69.8% in the third trimester of pregnancy. There were six miscarriage (2.3%), six intrauterine device (IUD) (2.3) and 5 (2.0%) neonatal deaths, with an overall rate of perinatal death of 4.2% (11/265), thus resulting into 17 cases experiencing and 226 not experiencing composite adverse fetal outcome. Neither stillbirths nor neonatal deaths had congenital anomalies found at antenatal or postnatal evaluation. Furthermore, none of the cases experiencing IUD had signs of impending demise at arterial or venous Doppler. Neonatal deaths were all considered as prematurity-related adverse events. Of the 250 live-born neonates, one (0.4%) was found positive at RT-PCR pharyngeal swabs performed after delivery. The mother was tested positive during the third trimester of pregnancy. The newborn was asymptomatic and had negative RT-PCR test after 14 days of life. At logistic regression analysis, gestational age at diagnosis (OR: 0.85, 95% CI 0.8-0.9 per week increase; p<0.001), birthweight (OR: 1.17, 95% CI 1.09-1.12.7 per 100 g decrease; p=0.012) and maternal ventilatory support, including either need for oxygen or CPAP (OR: 4.12, 95% CI 2.3-7.9; p=0.001) were independently associated with composite adverse fetal outcome. Conclusions Early gestational age at infection, maternal ventilatory supports and low birthweight are the main determinants of adverse perinatal outcomes in fetuses with maternal COVID-19 infection. Conversely, the risk of vertical transmission seems negligible.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/jpm-2020-0355DOI Listing
November 2020

Maternal myocardial dysfunction after normotensive fetal growth restriction compared with hypertensive pregnancies: a speckle-tracking study.

J Hypertens 2020 10;38(10):1955-1963

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, GROW School for Oncology and Developmental Biology, Maastricht University Medical Center (MUMC), The Netherlands.

Objective: Pregnancy complicated by preeclampsia and fetal growth restriction (FGR) relates to increased risk of cardiovascular disease later in life, but to different extents. Subclinical cardiac alterations precede eminent cardiovascular disease. Speckle-tracking echocardiography is an elegant method to assess subclinical myocardial dysfunction. We performed a myocardial speckle tracking study to evaluate the prevalence of subclinical myocardial dysfunction in former preeclampsia patients (with and without FGR) compared with normotensive women with FGR.

Methods: For this cross-sectional study, we retrospectively selected women with a history of normotensive FGR (n = 17), preeclampsia with FGR (n = 26) and preeclampsia without FGR (n = 134) who underwent conventional echocardiography as part of the clinical cardiovascular work-up after complicated pregnancies between 6 months and 4 years postpartum in Maastricht, The Netherlands. We excluded women with chronic hypertension, hypercholesterolemia and obesity.

Results: Women with normotensive FGR showed subclinical left ventricular (LV) impairment in systodiastolic function with concentric remodeling, slight alteration in right ventricular systolic function and left atrial strain, similarly to the preeclampsia group independently from the fetal growth. LV hypertrophy was only present in about 10% of cases who experienced preeclampsia (independently from the fetal growth) but not in those with normotensive FGR.

Conclusion: Similar to women with a history preeclampsia, women with a history of normotensive pregnancy but with FGR have abnormal myocardial function, shown with speckle-tracking echocardiography. Therefore, both preeclampsia and normotensive FGR should be viewed upon as risk indicator for subclinical myocardial impairment that may benefit from cardiovascular risk management.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/HJH.0000000000002496DOI Listing
October 2020

Sars-CoV-2 in pregnancy: Why is it better than expected?

Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol 2020 Sep 24;252:476-478. Epub 2020 Jul 24.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Parma, Parma, Italy.

Since the outbreak of Coronavirus disease in December 2019, information specific to pregnancy remains limited and controversial. Based on data from previous reports, it has been noticed that contrary to prior pandemics such as SARS, MERS and H1N1 and although pregnancy is usually considered as a condition of high susceptibility to viral infections, new SARS-CoV2 infection seems to have a more benign clinical course when affecting pregnant women. We speculate that during pregnancy the physiological "silencing" of the Th1 pro-inflammatory response may blunt the cytokines storm which is thought to play a key-role in the pathogenesis of the severe complications of Covid-19.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejogrb.2020.07.025DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7378463PMC
September 2020

Automatic measurement of head-perineum distance during intrapartum ultrasound: description of the technique and preliminary results.

J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med 2020 Jul 29:1-6. Epub 2020 Jul 29.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospital of Parma, Parma, Italy.

Objectives: To evaluate the accuracy and reliability of a new ultrasound technique for the automatic assessment of the head-perineum distance (HPD) during childbirth.

Methods: HPD was measured on a total of 40 acquisition sessions in 30 laboring women both automatically by an innovative algorithm and manually by trained sonographers, assumed as gold standard.

Results: A significant correlation was found between manual and automatic measurements (Intra-CC = 0.994). High values of the coefficient of determination (=0.98) and low residual errors: RMSE = 2.01 mm (4.9%) were found.

Conclusion: The automatic algorithm for the assessment of the HPD represents a reliable technique.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14767058.2020.1799974DOI Listing
July 2020
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