Digital Fetal Scalp Stimulation (dFSS) versus Fetal Blood Sampling (FBS) to assess fetal wellbeing in labour ? a multi-centre randomised controlled trial.

The CTG produces a paper-based recording which is interpreted by the midwife as showing normal, suspicious or abnormal features of the baby?s heart rate. Babies quite commonly demonstrate abnormal features from time to time during the course of labour. In some cases the abnormal features are of sufficient concern to warrant delivery by emergency caesarean section. In most of these cases the baby is born in good condition and the question arises whether the caesarean section was unnecessary. In order to reduce the chance of an unnecessary caesarean section additional ?second-line? tests can be offered. One such test is where a small drop of blood is taken from the baby?s scalp. This test involves an internal examination with an instrument to visualise the baby?s head and a small scratch to the baby?s scalp. The blood is tested for acid which is an indicator of whether or not the baby is receiving enough oxygen. The test is called a fetal blood sample or FBS. An alternative test is where the doctor or midwife performs a vaginal examination with two fingers and gently rubs the baby?s scalp in an attempt to increase the baby?s heart rate. This is a healthy response suggesting that the baby is receiving enough oxygen. The test is called digital fetal scalp stimulation or dFSS. These two ?second-line? tests have never been compared in a properly conducted head-to-head comparison. This study aims to compare dFSS and FBS in a large clinical trial completed within five of Ireland?s largest maternity hospitals. This trial will generate important evidence of direct relevance to clinical care and outcomes for mothers and babies.

Award Date
07 December 2018
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Professor Deirdre Murphy
Host Institution
Trinity College Dublin
Definitive Interventions and Feasibility Awards