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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Lactate compared with pH analysis at fetal scalp blood sampling: a prospective randomised study.

OBJECTIVE: Fetal scalp blood sampling is a widely used method for assessing fetal condition in the event of ominous fetal heart rate patterns. The purpose of this randomised trial was to compare the value of fetal scalp blood lactate and pH management in cases of abnormal intrapartum fetal heart rate tracings. METHODS: Of 341 cases of ominous fetal heart rate patterns, 169 were randomly assigned to pH analysis, and 172 to lactate measurements. Lactate was measured using a lactate card requiring 5 microL of blood and yielding the result within 60 seconds. pH analysis was performed with an ABL 510 acid-base analyser requiring 35 microL of blood and yielding the results within 47 seconds. RESULTS: Unsuccessful fetal blood sampling procedures (no result or an unreliable result) occurred significantly more often in the pH subgroup than in the lactate subgroup (OR 16.1 with 95% CI 5.8-44.7). In the pH subgroup the failure rate was inversely related to the degree of cervical dilatation. Compared with the pH subgroup, the lactate subgroup was characterised by fewer fetal scalp incisions per blood sampling attempt (median 1.0 [interquartile range (IQR) 1-1] vs 2.0 [IQR 1-2]), and significantly less time required for the sampling procedure (median 120 s [IQR 90-147] vs 230 s [IQR 180-300]). The groups did not differ in mode of delivery, neonatal outcome and umbilical artery acid-base balance and lactate levels. CONCLUSION: This trial showed the levels of lactate and pH in fetal scalp blood to be comparable in predicting perinatal outcome, but the procedure to measuring lactate was more successful than that for pH. Owing to its simplicity of performance, lactate analysis is an attractive alternative for intrapartum fetal monitoring.[1]


  1. Lactate compared with pH analysis at fetal scalp blood sampling: a prospective randomised study. Westgren, M., Kruger, K., Ek, S., Grunevald, C., Kublickas, M., Naka, K., Wolff, K., Persson, B. British journal of obstetrics and gynaecology. (1998) [Pubmed]
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