Update on intrapartum fetal pulse oximetry Academic Article uri icon


  • This article examines the current status of fetal pulse oximetry (FPO) as a means of intrapartum assessment of fetal wellbeing. FPO has been developed to a stage where it is a safe and accurate indicator of intrapartum fetal oxygenation. In general, sliding the FPO sensor along the examiner's fingers and through the cervix, to lie alongside the fetal cheek or temple is easy The recent publication of a randomised controlled trial (RCT) of FPO versus conventional intrapartum monitoring has validated its use to reduce caesarean section rates for nonreassuring fetal status. An Australian multicentre RCT is currently underway. Maternal satisfaction rates with FPO are high. FPO may be used during labour when the electronic fetal heart rate trace is nonreassuring or when conventional monitoring is unreliable, such as with fetal arrhythmias. If the fetal oxygen saturation (FSpO2) values are < 30%, prompt obstetric intervention is indicated, such as fetal scalp blood sampling or delivery FSpO2 monitoring should not form the sole basis of intrapartum fetal welfare assessment. Rather, the whole clinical picture should be considered.

publication date

  • April 2002