Umbilical Hypercoiling in 2nd- and 3rd-Trimester Intrauterine Fetal Death

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Cases of unexplained intrauterine fetal death (IUFD) can be reduced by full placental examination, with or without autopsy. Determination of the umbilical coiling index (UCI) is considered to be a part of full placental examination. Umbilical hypercoiling (UCI above 0.30 coils/cm) is associated with IUFD. In a large retrospective study, we found an incidence of 18% umbilical hypercoiling in IUFD. We explored the association between umbilical hypercoiling and 2nd- and 3rd-trimester IUFD in 77 cases. There was a significant negative correlation between the UCI and gestational age of IUFD (P < 0.001). More severe cases of hypercoiling were observed in the categories of IUFD at a younger age and with a longer duration. Signs of fetal thrombosis were significantly more present in IUFDs with umbilical hypercoiling. An umbilical cord stricture and hypercoiling seem to be significantly more common in IUFD. The severity of hypercoiling was of no influence on the presence or absence of an umbilical cord stricture. Furthermore, there was no significant difference in signs of cardiac failure between the groups of IUFD with and without umbilical hypercoiling. Our findings may be explained by the theory that hypercoiling leads to a disturbed fetal-placental circulation. Therefore, determination of the UCI should be part of the routine placental examination of cases of IUFD.

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