Cardiotocography

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Classical foetal monitoring is performed by using a trumpet shaped stethoscope named after its inventor August Pinard. The doctor or midwife places the bell of the stethoscope over the foetal heart and puts an ear to the flat end. The use of doppler ultrasound is easier to hear through an earphone or a small loudspeaker. Patients find listening to their baby's heart very reassuring.

If there is concern a permanent and continuing record can be made by a cardiotocograph. The device is made by Hewlett Packard and consists of two monitors. One measures the foetal heart rate by ultrasound and another the uterine contractions.[1] Output can be displayed continuously on a screen or permanently on a two channel pen recorder.

By comparing the variation of foetal heart within and without contractions the need for intervention can be assessed. [2]

The technique is not currently recommended for routine surveillance of normal pregnancy. [3] A Cochrane review [4] suggests that a scalp electrode is a more useful form of monitoring.

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