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Open Access Research article

Maternal carotid remodeling and increased carotid arterial stiffness in normal late-gestational pregnancy as assessed by radio-frequency ultrasound technique

Li-Jun Yuan, Dan Xue, Yun-You Duan*, Tie-Sheng Cao and Ning Zhou

Author Affiliations

Department of Ultrasound Diagnostics, Tangdu Hospital, Fourth Military Medical University, Xi’an 710038, China

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BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2013, 13:122  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-122

Published: 27 May 2013

Abstract

Background

The adaption of elastic arteries to transient increase in hemodynamic load in normal pregnancy (NP) remains controversial. The purpose of this study was to investigate the NP carotid remodeling and regional arterial stiffness before and after parturition.

Methods

Fifty-one NP women and 30 age-matched non-pregnant women were included. All women underwent right common carotid artery (RCCA) measurements with MylabTwice ultrasound instrument (Esaote, Italy). Carotid intima-medial thickness (IMT), pulse wave velocity (PWV, m/s), distensibility coefficient (DC, 1/KPa), α, β, augmentation index (AIx, %) and carotid arterial pressure were obtained by the newly developed ultrasound vascular wall tracking methods: automatic QAS (Quality Arterial Stiffness) and QIMT (Quality Intima-Medial Thickness) Follow up study was performed.

Results

Compared to the non-pregnant controls, the arterial pressures were significantly increased and RCCA diameter was significantly enlarged in late gestational NP women. Twenty months after parturition, carotid diameter, DC, AIx, PWV and arterial wall tension were significantly decreased and had no significant difference with those in non-pregnant controls.

Conclusions

Carotid arterial remodeling and stiffening could be seen in the normal pregnant women, which seems to be a physiological adaption and could be recovered post partum. QIMT and QAS together could provide a comprehensive assessment of the maternal carotid arterial changes during pregnancy.

Keywords:
Arterial stiffness; Intima-media thickness; Carotid artery; Normal pregnancy; Arterial remodeling