OnExam

This test is used to track fetal growth and screen for abnormalities.

Performing the Test

  1. Begin by ensuring the woman's bladder is adequately empty as this may alter the measurement
  2. Use a flexible measuring tape
  3. Measure from the top of the symphysis pubis, over the pregnant abdomen, to the top of the uterine fundus, as determined by palpation

Interpretation

  • When expressed in centimetres (cm), corresponds roughly with the gestational age (GA) expressed in weeks
  • If the difference between SFH and GA is greater than 2.0 cm, it could be indicative of an abnormality
    • SHF greater than expected can be due to multiple gestation, macrosomia, and polyhydramnios
    • SHF less than expected can be indicative of growth retardation but can also occur if the fetus is in a transverse lie
  • As a screening tool for fetal growth abnormalities:
    • Sensitivity of 16.6% for detecting large for gestational age (LGA) neonates
    • Sensitivity of 17.3% for detecting small for gestational age (SGA) neonates
    • Specificity of 92.4-95.4%

References

  1. Bickley LS. Bates’ Guide to Physical Examination and History Taking. 9th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2007.
  2. Cunningham FG, Leveno KJ, Bloom SL, Hauth JC, Rouse DJ, Spong CY. Williams Obstetrics. 23rd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill; 2010.
  3. Sparks TN, et al. Fundal height: a useful screening tool for fetal growth? [published online ahead of print September 17, 2010]. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.3109/14767058.2010.516285