Fetal liver blood flow is very important for fetal hemodynamics. To assess the development of fetal liver vascularization and blood flow in normal gestation, we measured the fetal liver vascularization and blood flow in normal fetuses using the three-dimensional (3-D) power Doppler ultrasound (US) and quantitative 3-D power Doppler histogram analysis. This study was undertaken with a prospective, cross-sectional design. In total, 196 normal singletons with gestational age between 20 and 40 weeks were included. The 3-D power Doppler US and the quantitative histogram analysis were used to assess the fetal liver vascularization index (VI), flow index (FI), vascularization-flow index (VFI) and mean greyness in each case. Our results showed that all the fetal liver VI, FI and VFI increased significantly with gestational age (GA), whereas, fetal liver mean greyness decreased with GA. Using GA as the independent variable, the linear regression equations for fetal liver VI, FI, VFI and mean greyness were VI = 0.5746 × GA - 5.8264 (r = 0.86, p < 0.0001), FI = 0.3291 × GA + 35.624 (r = 0.35, p < 0.001), VFI = 0.2905 × GA - 3.4871 (r = 0.82, p < 0.0001) and mean greyness = -0.2034 × GA + 42.315 (r = -0.20, p < 0.0001). In addition, fetal liver VI, FI, VFI and nean greyness were all significantly correlated with common fetal growth indexes, such as biparietal diameter, occipitofrontal diameter, head circumference, abdominal circumference, femur length and estimated fetal weight. Our study indicates that normal fetal liver vascularization and blood flow change significantly with the advancement of GA as well as fetal growth indexes. We believe our data may serve as a reference for further studies of fetal liver blood flow in abnormal conditions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Acoustics and Ultrasonics