Interpretation of the electronic fetal heart rate during labor

Amir Sweha, Trevor W. Hacker, James Nuovo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

51 Scopus citations

Abstract

Electronic fetal heart rate monitoring is commonly used to assess fetal well-being during labor. Although detection of fetal compromise is one benefit of fetal monitoring, there are also risks, including false-positive tests that may result in unnecessary surgical intervention. Since variable and inconsistent interpretation of fetal heart rate tracings may affect management, a systematic approach to interpreting the patterns is important. The fetal heart rate undergoes constant and minute adjustments in response to the fetal environment and stimuli. Fetal heart rate patterns are classified as reassuring, nonreassuring or ominous. Nonreassuring patterns such as fetal tachycardia, bradycardia and late decelerations with good short-term variability require intervention to rule out fetal acidosis. Ominous patterns require emergency intrauterine fetal resuscitation and immediate delivery. Differentiating between a reassuring and nonreassuring fetal heart rate pattern is the essence of accurate interpretation, which is essential to guide appropriate triage decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2487-2500
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Family Physician
Volume59
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 1999

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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