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Magann, Everett F. MD; Isler, Christy M. MD; Chauhan, Suneet P. MD; Martin, James N. Jr MD


The biophysical profile (BPP) can be used as an initial test of fetal health and as a secondary back-up assessment of fetuses at risk of adverse outcomes when preliminary evaluations are not reassuring. The BPP evaluates five characteristics: fetal movement, tone, breathing, heart reactivity, and amniotic fluid (AF) volume estimation. Three of the most frequently used obstetric textbooks define adequate AF volume differently. In two of the three, the stated method of evaluating AF volume differs from that actually used by the referenced authors. We reviewed articles by Manning and found that his methodology changed from a 1-cm pocket in one plane to a 1-cm pocket in two perpendicular planes, and finally to a 2-cm vertical pocket with a 1-cm horizontal measurement. The 2 × 2-cm pocket is a fourth methodology that has been introduced recently. It is not known how often and in which groups each of the four methods has been used to evaluate abnormal AF volumes. The relevance and importance of determining precisely the ultrasound measurement actually used for investigations are emphasized by looking at women with AF indices ≤ 5. Fifty-three percent of those women had a 2 × 2 pocket, 72% had a 2 × 1 pocket, and 95% had a 1 × 1 pocket. The diagnosis of low fluid can lead to additional testing, hydration, and intervention, so the importance of a universal definition linked with pregnancy outcomes cannot be overemphasized.

There is confusion over definitions in volume estimation of amniotic fluid using the biophysical profile.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Mississippi.

Supported in part by the Vicksburg Hospital Medical Foundation, Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Received August 16, 1999. Received in revised form October 25, 1999. Accepted November 18, 1999.

© 2000 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists