Is the correlation between fetal oxygen saturation and blood pH sufficient for the use of fetal pulse oximetry?

R. J.P. Rijnders, B. W.J. Mol, P. J.H.M. Reuwer, A. P. Drogtrop, M. M.A. Vernooij, G. H.A. Visser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Fetal pulse oximetry was performed during labor in high-risk cases for fetal distress to determine the diagnostic value of this method. Methods: The fetal SpO2 values were blinded from the obstetrician so that these values did not influence clinical decisions. Mean and lowest SpO2 measurements for the last 30 min prior to either fetal scalp blood sampling or delivery were correlated with scalp pH or pH from the umbilical artery. Results: No significant correlation was found between pH and mean fetal oxygen saturation (correlation coefficient -0.02, p = 0.9). There was no significant correlation between pH and lowest fetal oxygen saturation (correlation coefficient 0.04, p = 0.84). Concerning the feasibility of the method, we found that only 23 of 65 included patients were suitable for analysis; in 20% of cases, we were not able to perform a SpO2 measurement. Conclusions: None of three cases with pH below 7.05 would have been detected using mean SpO2 over the last 30 min prior to fetal scalp blood sampling or delivery. Only one case would have been detected using the lowest SpO2 measurement over this period. We conclude that fetal SpO2 measurements during labor are of poor diagnostic value, with a disappointing feasibility and therefore are not ready for implementing into daily clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-83
Number of pages4
JournalThe Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Diagnostic value
  • Feasibility
  • Fetal monitoring
  • Fetal pulse oximetry

Cite this