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Use of wind-up fetal Doppler versus Pinard for fetal heart rate intermittent monitoring in labour: a randomised clinical trial
  1. R Byaruhanga1,
  2. D G Bassani2,
  3. A Jagau3,
  4. P Muwanguzi4,
  5. A L Montgomery2,
  6. J E Lawn5
  1. 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, St. Raphael of St. Francis Hospital Nsambya, Kampala, Uganda
  2. 2Centre for Global Child Health, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada
  3. 3Powerfree Education and Technology, Cape Town, South Africa
  4. 4Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Uganda Martyrs Hospital Rubaga, Kampala, Uganda
  5. 5London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr AL Montgomery; ann.montgomery{at}


Objectives In resource-poor settings, the standard of care to inform labour management is the partograph plus Pinard stethoscope for intermittent fetal heart rate (FHR) monitoring. We compared FHR monitoring in labour using a novel, robust wind-up handheld Doppler with the Pinard as a primary screening tool for abnormal FHR on perinatal outcomes.

Design Prospective equally randomised clinical trial.

Setting The labour and delivery unit of a teaching hospital in Kampala, Uganda.

Participants Of the 2042 eligible antenatal women, 1971 women in active term labour, following uncomplicated pregnancies, were randomised to either the standard of care or not.

Intervention Intermittent FHR monitoring using Doppler.

Primary outcome measures Incidence of FHR abnormality detection, intrapartum stillbirth and neonatal mortality prior to discharge.

Results Age, parity, gestational age, mode of delivery and newborn weight were similar between study groups. In the Doppler group, there was a significantly higher rate of FHR abnormalities detected (incidence rate ratio (IRR)=1.61, 95% CI 1.13 to 2.30). However, in this group, there were also higher though not statistically significant rates of intrapartum stillbirths (IRR=3.94, 0.44 to 35.24) and neonatal deaths (IRR=1.38, 0.44 to 4.34).

Conclusions Routine monitoring with a handheld Doppler increased the identification of FHR abnormalities in labour; however, our trial did not find evidence that this leads to a decrease in the incidence of intrapartum stillbirth or neonatal death.

Trial registration number Clinical (1000031587).


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