Background: In recent years there have been significant developments in the use of 3D Power Doppler (3DPD) imaging and quantitative 3DPD histogram analysis to estimate both placental volume and intra-placental vasculature. This study aims to determine if placental volume, vascularisation and blood flow are correlated with gestational age in normal pregnancy. It also examines whether or not a new software method for analysis of percentage calcification (the ‘placentometer’) correlates well with gestation. Material and method: This was a prospective cohort study of 250 women with normal pregnancies (12 + 6 to 39 + 5 weeks gestation). 3DPD ultrasound was used to evaluate placental volume, vascularisation index (VI), flow index (FI) and vascularisation-flow index (VFI). Placental volume (calculated at 35–40 weeks gestation), was correlated with birth weight. Following each scan the percentage of calcification was also calculated using the placentometer. Results: Placental volume correlated significantly with gestational age: 66.676 + 0.623 × GA (P < 0.001). No significant change with gestation was noted in VI, FI and VFI (VI: P = 0.199, FI: P = 0.299, VFI: P = 0.557). Software analysis of the percentage of calcification, demonstrated the expected increase in calcification as gestation increased: −4.605 + 0.032 × GA (P < 0.001). From 35 to 40 weeks gestation volume was related to birth weight (P < 0.01). Conclusion: This study shows that in normal low-risk pregnancy placental volume increases with gestational age, whereas vascularisation and blood flow are independent of gestation. Placental volume in late pregnancy is related to birth weight. Software analysis of the percentage of calcification demonstrates an increase with advancing gestation.
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Medicine Research Collection