Fetal assessment for anesthesiologists: Are you evaluating the other patient?

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Suboptimal communication between anesthesiologists and obstetricians can be associated with unintended poor maternal and neonatal outcomes, especially for emergency cesarean deliveries. Obstetricians use the results of antepartum and intrapartum fetal assessments to assess fetal well-being and to make decisions about the timing and method of delivery. Because abnormal results may lead to the need for urgent or emergency cesarean deliveries, these decisions may directly impact anesthetic care. Lack of familiarity with fetal assessments and the significance of the results may thus hinder the communication necessary for optimal patient care. In this review article, we discuss the current antepartum and intrapartum fetal assessment modalities, including the nonstress test, biophysical profile, Doppler velocimetry, electronic fetal heart rate monitoring, fetal electrocardiogram (STAN-ST waveform analysis), and fetal pulse oximetry. The physiologic basis behind these modalities and the available evidence regarding their utility in clinical practice are also reviewed. The 2008 National Institute of Child Health and Human Development workshop report on electronic fetal monitoring categories, which are incorporated into the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists guidelines for intrapartum care, is examined. The implications of test interpretation to the practice of obstetric anesthesiology is also discussed. Anesthesia provider understanding of fetal assessment modalities is essential in improving communication with obstetricians and improving the planning of cesarean deliveries for high-risk obstetric patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1278-1292
Number of pages15
JournalAnesthesia and analgesia
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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