Continuous Fetal Tissue pH Measurement in Labor

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Fifty-one women in labor had continuous monitoring of fetal scalp tissue pH, fetal heart rate by ECG, and uterine contractions. A miniature pH electrode secured by a double spiral fetal ECG electrode was used for measurement of fetal pH every 15 seconds. The results were correlated with fetal scalp blood pH values obtained simultaneously. Fetal scalp sampling is intermittent, requires repeated scalp incisions, is subject to errors due to air mixing and coagulation of the blood sample, and is uncomfortable for the parturient. Placement of the tissue pH electrode allows continuous data recording with the minimum discomfort to the patient and the least number of fetal scalp incisions. Clinical use of the tissue pH electrode might be a practical alternative to fetal scalp samples, if the data obtained accurately reflect fetal status.

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