Article

Monitoring fetal electrocortical activity during labour for predicting worsening acidemia: a prospective study in the ovine fetus near term.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Lawson Health Research Institute, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.53). 01/2011; 6(7):e22100. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0022100
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Severe fetal acidemia during labour with arterial pH below 7.00 is associated with increased risk of hypoxic-ischemic brain injury. Electronic fetal heart rate (FHR) monitoring, the mainstay of intrapartum surveillance, has poor specificity for detecting fetal acidemia. We studied brain electrical activity measured with electrocorticogram (ECOG) in the near term ovine fetus subjected to repetitive umbilical cord occlusions (UCO) inducing FHR decelerations, as might be seen in human labour, to delineate the time-course for ECOG changes with worsening acidemia and thereby assess the potential clinical utility of fetal ECOG.
Ten chronically catheterized fetal sheep were studied through a series of mild, moderate and severe UCO until the arterial pH was below 7.00. At a pH of 7.24 ± 0.04, 52 ± 13 min prior to the pH dropping <7.00, spectral edge frequency (SEF) increased to 23 ± 2 Hz from 3 ± 1 Hz during each FHR deceleration (p<0.001) and was correlated to decreases in FHR and in fetal arterial blood pressure during each FHR deceleration (p<0.001).
The UCO-related changes in ECOG occurred in advance of the pH decreasing below 7.00. These ECOG changes may be a protective mechanism suppressing non-essential energy needs when oxygen supply to the fetal brain is decreased acutely. By detecting such "adaptive brain shutdown," the need for delivery in high risk pregnant patients may be more accurately predicted than with FHR monitoring alone. Therefore, monitoring fetal electroencephalogram (EEG, the human equivalent of ECOG) during human labour may be a useful adjunct to FHR monitoring.

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    ABSTRACT: have contributed equally to this work. Objective: Repetitive umbilical cord occlusions (UCOs) in ovine fetus leading to severe acidemia result in adaptive shut-down of electrocortical activity [electrocorticogram (ECoG)] as well as systemic and brain inflammation. We hypothesized that the fetuses with earlier ECoG shut-down as a neuroprotective mechanism in response to repetitive UCOs will show less brain inflammation and, moreover, that chronic hypoxia will impact this relationship. Methods: Near-term fetal sheep were chronically instrumented with ECoG leads, vascular catheters, and a cord occluder and then underwent repetitive UCOs for up to 4 h or until fetal arterial pH was <7.00. Eight animals, hypoxic prior to the UCOs (SaO 2 <55%), were allowed to recover 24 h post insult, while 14 animals, 5 of whom also were chronically hypoxic, were allowed to recover 48 h post insult, after which brains were perfusion-fixed. Time of ECoG shut-down and corresponding pH were noted, as well as time to then reach pH <7.00 (∆T). Microglia (MG) were counted as a measure of inflammation in gray mat-ter layers 4–6 (GM4–6) where most ECoG activity is generated. Results are reported as mean ± SEM for p < 0.05. Results: Repetitive UCOs resulted in worsening acidosis over 3–4 h with arterial pH decreasing to 6.97 ± 0.02 all UCO groups' animals, recovering to baseline by 24 h. ECoG shut-down occurred 52 ± 7 min before reaching pH <7.00 at pH 7.23 ± 0.02 across the animal groups. MG counts were inversely correlated to ∆T in 24 h recovery animals (R = −0.84), as expected. This was not the case in normoxic 48 h recovery animals, and, surprisingly, in hypoxic 48 h recovery animals, this relationship was reversed (R = 0.90). Conclusion: Adaptive brain shut-down during labor-like worsening acidemia counteracts neuroinflammation in a hypoxia-and time-dependent manner.
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    ABSTRACT: Severe fetal acidemia during labour can result in life-lasting neurological deficits, but the timely detection of this condition is often not possible. This is because the positive predictive value (PPV) of fetal heart rate (FHR) monitoring, the mainstay of fetal health surveillance during labour, to detect concerning fetal acidemia is around 50%. In fetal sheep model of human labour, we reported that severe fetal acidemia (pH<7.00) during repetitive umbilical cord occlusions (UCOs) is preceded ∼60 minutes by the synchronization of electroencephalogram (EEG) and FHR. However, EEG and FHR are cyclic and noisy, and although the synchronization might be visually evident, it is challenging to detect automatically, a necessary condition for bedside utility. Here we present and validate a novel non-parametric statistical method to detect fetal acidemia during labour by using EEG and FHR. The underlying algorithm handles non-stationary and noisy data by recording number of abnormal episodes in both EEG and FHR. A logistic regression is then deployed to test whether these episodes are significantly related to each other. We then apply the method in a prospective study of human labour using fetal sheep model (n = 20). Our results render a PPV of 68% for detecting impending severe fetal acidemia ∼60 min prior to pH drop to less than 7.00 with 100% negative predictive value. We conclude that this method has a great potential to improve PPV for detection of fetal acidemia when it is implemented at the bedside. We outline directions for further refinement of the algorithm that will be achieved by analyzing larger data sets acquired in prospective human pilot studies.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(9):e108119. · 3.53 Impact Factor

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