The fetal-pelvic index has minimal utility in predicting fetal-pelvic disproportion

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Our purpose was to evaluate the fetal-pelvic index in our patient population and to determine whether it would be predictive of route of delivery.


One hundred seventy-six patients with a previous history or clinical findings in the current pregnancy suggestive of fetal-pelvic disproportion participated in this Human Investigation Committee-approved study. All underwent fetal ultrasonographic examinations and modified digital radiography before labor. Fetal head and abdominal circumferences and maternal inlet and midpelvic circumferences were determined, and the fetal-pelvic index was calculated.


Ninety-one patients fulfilled all aspects of the study, including rigorous criteria pertaining to labor management. Thirty of these patients underwent cesarean delivery and 61 were delivered vaginally. The fetal-pelvic index value for the vaginal delivery group was -5.4 +/- 5.3, as opposed to -2.4 +/- 5.8 in the cesarean delivery group (P < .02). Notwithstanding this difference, the fetal-pelvic index had a low overall ability to predict fetal-pelvic disproportion (0.65) and had associated sensitivity and specificity of 0.27 and 0.84, respectively. Predictive thresholds other than zero were tested, but optimal predictive ability, at a fetal-pelvic index cutoff of 2, was only 70% (sensitivity 0.20, specificity 0.95).


In our patient population the fetal-pelvic index was only moderately predictive of fetal-pelvic disproportion. Factors other than those assessed by the fetal-pelvic index are probably important in determining the route of delivery. Further studies are indicated. (Am J Obstet Gynecol 1998;179:1186-92.)

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