Despite world-leading maternity care, 6 babies are stillborn every day in Australia; affecting over 2,000 Australian families per year. This rate has not changed over the last 20 years and along with its devastating family impact remains a significant burden and cost to the healthcare system. Reduced blood flow to the placenta is a major contributor to the tragedy of stillbirth though no bedside tool exists to directly evaluate fetal or placental perfusion.
Our multidisciplinary research team have developed and recently validated a tool for quantification of 3D ultrasound that could be applied to any vascular bed. This tool, Three-Dimensional Fractional Moving Blood Volume (3D-FMBV) is the first bedside non-invasive rapid assessment tool for blood flow within the fetus and placenta. This therefore represents the first time that we can evaluate the fetus ‘at risk’ of acute or chronic impairment.
Thanks to generous support from donors and partners, the RHW Foundation has recently funded a state-of-the-art Verasonics Vantage 256 ultrasound system (VVS), which allows our research team to fully program the ultrasound wave and evaluate every aspect of raw data coming back from the patient.
We are the first research group in Australia to have approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for the VVS and have local research ethics approval for its use; we aim to be the first group in the world to apply this to the human fetus and neonate significantly enhancing our ability to develop new fetal imaging tools.