Pregnancies are tough enough as it is – all the tougher when things don’t go as planned. Dystocia, or difficult labor, often requires more advanced procedures like Cesarean Sections (C-Sections), which can be dangerous to the mother if the doctors aren’t expecting problems.
One hospital in the south of France is claiming that they have something that could help keep mothers and babies safe during tough pregnancies – software that can process imaging results from MRIs of fetuses to accurately predict the likelihood of the mother-to-be experiencing difficulties during labor. The software, called PREDIBIRTH, was unveiled by Dr. Olivier Ami (pictured) and his colleagues at the Department of Radiology at Antoine Béclères Hospital, Université Paris Sud, France. PREDIBIRTH creates a 3D model of the fetus and the mother’s pelvis based on MRI scans. From there, the software simulates 72 different trajectories that the fetus could take during childbirth, and analyzes the likelihood of difficulties for each. This is all combined into a total score for the expectant mother that indicates the overall likelihood of difficult labor.
So, does it work? Early tests suggest yes. Out of 24 women whose pregnancies were measured by PREDIBIRTH, all 13 women who experienced no complications scored low on PREDIBIRTH. Of the five women who delivered by emergency C-section, three were designated as high risk, while the other two were designated as medium-risk and low-risk. All three high-risk women had overweight babies, while the other two experienced heart rhythm abnormalities in their children. It’s too small of a sample size to say anything conclusive, but the software shows enough promise to warrant further tests to see if PREDIBIRTH can help make hospitals better prepared for high-risk pregnancies – vital considering that emergency C-sections have higher morbidity rates than a planned C-section.
If further tests bear out what Dr. Ami is claiming, PREDIBIRTH could go a long way towards keeping mother and child safe during labor. It might even save some lives down the road.