Intrapartum Fetal Oxygen Saturation Monitoring in Congenital Fetal Heart Block Academic Article uri icon


  • Conventional intrapartum electronic fetal heart rate monitoring is not informative in certain fetal conditions because the electronically-monitored fetal heart rate pattern is uninterpretable in terms of reflecting fetal normoxia. Such fetal conditions include various cardiac dysrrhythmias and some central nervous system abnormalities. Difficulties with intrapartum fetal welfare surveillance in such conditions often lead to operative delivery as a precautionary measure. We report 2 cases of intrapartum fetal oxygen saturation monitoring in the presence of congenital complete heart block (CCHB), using the Nellcor N400/FS14 oxygen saturation monitoring system. Mean intrapartum fetal oxygen saturation (FSpO2) was 32% (SEM +/- 1%) in the first case and 48% (SEM +/- 0.3%) in the second case. In both cases, vaginal delivery of otherwise healthy infants was achieved. Fetal pulse oximetry is a promising new technique which directly measures fetal oxygenation without reference to fetal heart rate patterns. It may assist in the intrapartum fetal welfare assessment in conditions such as complete heart block, thereby helping to avoid otherwise unnecessary operative delivery.

publication date

  • August 1998