UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Screening for small for gestational age using third-trimester ultrasound markers: protocol for a systematic review and meta-analysis of screening test accuracy Gasse, Cédric; Paquette, Kim; Demers, Suzanne; Roberge, Stéphanie; Bujold, Emmanuel; Boutin, Amélie


Background: Fetal growth restriction (FGR) is a complication of pregnancy associated with major neonatal morbidity and commonly diagnosed at birth based on birth weight below the 5th or the 10th centile. There is no consensus on the use of routine third-trimester ultrasound for the detection of FGR in a general population. This systematic review aims to estimate the performance of third-trimester ultrasound markers in the screening for babies who are small for gestational age in low-risk or general population. Methods: A systematic review of screening test accuracy will be conducted. The databases MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane Library, and Web of Science will be searched from their inception until December 2017, as well as reference lists of included studies and previous related review articles. Studies screening for FGR in a low-risk or general population using third-trimester ultrasound markers and reporting low birth weight for gestational age (small for gestational age at birth) as a reference will be eligible. Two reviewers will independently screen references for inclusion, assess the risk of bias, and extract data. The Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Study 2 (QUADAS-2) tool will be used to assess the methodological quality and validity of individual studies. The hierarchal summary receiver operating characteristic and random effects hierarchal bivariate models (Bivariate) will be used to estimate the pooled sensitivity and specificity of each ultrasound marker and to compare the discriminative ability of the different ultrasound markers. Subgroup and sensitivity analyses will be performed to explore the heterogeneity between studies and to assess the effect of screening tests’ characteristics (e.g., timing) on their discriminative ability. Discussion: This systematic review will determine the relevance of routine third-trimester ultrasound markers in the screening for FGR in low-risk or general population and their usefulness in standard pregnancy care. Additionally, this knowledge synthesis represents a step in the optimization of the discriminative ability of third-trimester ultrasound and predictive tools, allowing for targeted interventions aiming at the reduction of FGR complications and ultimately improving infants’ health. Systematic review registration: This protocol has been registered at PROSPERO: international prospective register of systematic reviews. The register number is CRD42018085564 .

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