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 evidence 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 labour and the identification of the fetuses at risk of intrapartum distress.
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