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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 1/2018

A systematic review of cardiac time intervals utilising non-invasive fetal electrocardiogram in normal fetuses

BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth > Ausgabe 1/2018
Vinayak Smith, Senthuran Arunthavanathan, Amrish Nair, Diane Ansermet, Fabricio da Silva Costa, Euan Morrison Wallace



Non-invasive fetal electrocardiogram (NIFECG) is an evolving technology in fetal surveillance which is attracting increasing research interest. There is however, only limited data outlining the reference ranges for normal cardiac time intervals (CTIs). The objective of our group was to carry out a systematic review to outline normal fetal CTIs using NIFECG.


A systematic review of peer reviewed literature was performed, searching PUBMED,Ovid MEDLINE and EMBASE. The outcomes of interest included fetal CTIs (P wave duration, PR interval, QRS duration and QT interval) and a descriptive summary of relevant studies as well. The outcomes were grouped as early pre-term ( 32 weeks), moderate to late pre-term (32–37 weeks) and term (37–41 weeks).


8 studies were identified as suitable for inclusion. Reference ranges of CTIs were generated. Both PR interval and QRS duration demonstrated a linear correlation with advancing gestation. Several studies also demonstrated a reduction in signal acquisition between 27 and 32 weeks due to the attenuation by vernix caseosa. In this group, both the P wave and T waves were difficult to detect due to signal strength and interference.


NIFECG demonstrates utility to quantify CTIs in the fetus, particularly at advanced gestations. Larger prospective studies should be directed towards establishing reliable CTIs across various gestations.
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