Doppler study of arterial and venous intraovarian blood flow in stimulated cycles

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Abstract

Objective

To evaluate arterial and venous intraovarian blood flow in follicle stimulating hormone-stimulated cycles.

Subjects and methods

This was a prospective study of 76 follicle stimulating hormone-stimulated cycles carried out in 39 infertile patients who were included in a timed intercourse or intrauterine insemination program in a referral center for assisted reproduction. Transvaginal color and pulsed Doppler measurements of the follicular and luteal phase resistance index, pulsatility index, peak systolic velocity and maximum venous velocity were made and serum progesterone levels during the mid-luteal phase were recorded. Velocimetric parameters were established and then used to classify ovarian function as having a normal ovulatory cycle, or a cycle in which there was either luteal phase deficiency or a luteinized unruptured follicle.

Results

In 52 normal ovulatory cycles, the luteal phase peak systolic and maximum venous velocities were significantly higher and resistance and pulsatility indices were significantly lower than those found in the follicular phase. In 15 women with luteal phase deficiency we did not find any differences in arterial velocimetric parameters when compared with normal ovulatory cycles. However, luteal phase maximum venous velocities were lower in the luteal phase deficiency cycles and there was a significant correlation between luteal phase maximum venous velocity and serum progesterone levels (r = 0.36). Luteinized unruptured follicle cycles (n = 9) did not show significant changes during the ovarian cycle and no ‘luteal conversion’ of the Doppler signal was identified.

Conclusions

Follicle stimulating hormone-stimulated cycles in infertile patients can have a high percentage of abnormal functional responses that can be diagnosed only by sonographic assessment, Doppler and the appropriate hormonal follow-up. Arterial and venous intraovarian blood flow remain unaltered during luteinized unruptured follicle cycles and serum progesterone levels correlated with luteal phase maximum venous velocity, which makes Doppler a potentially useful non-invasive test to assess ovulation and luteal function.

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