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Fetal Dysrhythmias: A Primer for the Obstetrician/Gynecologist

Abel, David E. MD, FACOG

Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey: July 2013 - Volume 68 - Issue 7 - p 521–525
doi: 10.1097/OGX.0b013e3182947b0e

During routine fetal auscultation, it is not uncommon to encounter an abnormal fetal heart rate. The rate may be abnormally slow or fast, or irregular. This article focuses on fetal dysrhythmias, defined as any irregular fetal cardiac rhythm or a regular rhythm with an abnormal rate outside the range of 120 to 160 beats per minute (Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2000;182:813–819). This article also helps the reader to recognize the most common types of fetal arrhythmias, understand the fetal risks associated with many fetal arrhythmias, and identify some of the pharmacological options used to treat fetal arrhythmias.

Target Audience: Obstetricians and gynecologists, family physicians

Learning Objectives: After completing this CME activity, physicians should be better able to diagnose the most commonly encountered fetal arrhythmias, identify the fetal risks associated with many fetal arrhythmias, and choose the appropriate option to treat fetal arrhythmias.

Doctor, Board-Certified, Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Prenatal Diagnosis of Northern California, Sacramento, CA

The author and staff in a position to control the content of this CME activity and their spouses/life partners (if any) have disclosed that they have no financial relationships with, or financial interests in, any commercial organizations pertaining to this educational activity.

Correspondence requests to: David E. Abel, MD, FACOG, 726 NW 11th Ave, #510 Portland, OR 97209. E-mail:

© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.