Current knowledge on the use of ultrasound measurements of fetal soft tissues for the assessment of pregnancy development
J Ultrason 2018; 18: 50–55
DOI: 10.15557/JoU.2018.0008

Ultrasonography, with its detailed imaging of the fetus, is very widely used in obstetrics. The primary aim of ultrasound scanning in pregnancy is to limit the risk of obstetric complications by early detection of abnormalities, such as intrauterine growth restriction and macrosomia. Currently, morphometric formulae are used for estimating fetal weight. They utilize basic biometric parameters. However, Hadlock formula, used for fetal weight estimation, has an error rate of 20%. For this reason, researchers all over the world have been looking for other sonographic parameters correlating with fetal weight, with a higher predictive value. The current scientific reports indicate that new sonographic parameters, such as soft tissue thickness values, are useful for fetal weight assessment. The measurements can be conducted in various parts of the fetus’s body, e.g. thigh, upper arm, abdomen or the subscapular area. Different types of measurements are characterized by different levels of correlation with other sonographic and anthropometric parameters as well as body mass and gestational age. Based on the reports, numerous studies proposing new fetal weight calculation formulae have been produced. Apart from soft tissue, some more advanced and detailed measurements are taken, such as those involving adipose and lean tissue or using three-dimensional ultrasound (3D), for determining fetal weight. Ultrasound measurement of subcutaneous tissue thickness in various parts of the body may prove to be a strong predictor of fetal weight, which is useful for sonographic assessment of pregnancy.

Key words: obstetrics, pregnancy, ultrasonography, fetal weight, fetal macrosomia, fetal growth retardation