A fetal biophysical profile is one of the prenatal tests conducted on fetuses during gestation. This test in particular is performed when there is a nonreactive result from the nonstress test. The fetal biophysical test involves combing both the nonstress test and fetal ultrasound to monitor heart rate, movement, and amniotic fluid content.
A biophysical test is usually performed when a mother is as risk of developing complications and or miscarriage. The test is generally conducted after 32 weeks of pregnancy but can be conducted whenever a fetus becomes viable after delivery, which is at 24 weeks. Any negative or worrying outcome may mean immediate early delivery may be required.
Why Is a Biophysical Profile Performed?
A biophysical profile is made to assess and monitor the fetus’ health. The ultimate goal of this test is to avoid miscarriage or stillbirth of a fetus. This test helps detect hypoxia or low oxygen levels within the fetus, which may ultimately cause serious neurological damage and possible death of the fetus.
Your provider may at first, after assessing your condition, advise to have a simplified version of the full biophysical profile. The simplified version includes a nonstress test and amniotic fluid assessment via ultrasound.
Your provider may request a biophysical profile to be done because:
- You have a multiple fetus pregnancy
- You have a medical condition that may cause complications, such as hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, or lupus
- You have passed your due date by a considerable time
- You have had pregnancy loss before
- You have had pregnancy complications in previous pregnancies
- Your baby has decreased fetal movement and/or growth
- Your amniotic levels are too low or too high
- You have Rh sensitization – a potentially dangerous condition that is caused by the mother being Rh negative and the fetus being Rh positive
- Your age is over 35 years old
- You are considered obese
A biophysical profile may be performed on a regular basis, for example once or twice a week, until you deliver.
A biophysical profile may cause you some anxiety. However, be rest assured, our team at Women’s HealthFirst will be taking care of you every step of the way. The procedure in totality may take up to 30 minutes to complete. The simplified biophysical takes even less time.
During the nonstress test, you will be sitting down in a reclining position. The monitor is then strapped across your abdomen which will monitors the fetal heart rate. If your baby is asleep, the doctor may awaken the baby using sound projection over your belly.
During the ultrasound portion of the profile, you will be required to lay down on your back. Gel will be placed on the abdomen and an instrument called a transducer will be rolled over. The transducer emits sound waves, which are then translated into white and black images on the monitor. During this time, your technician will then evaluate your baby’s movement, muscle tone, breathing movements, and amniotic fluid levels.
Each area that is examined is given a score of 0 or 2, depending on how much of the criteria has been met. The following is how each segment of the exam will be scored:
- Fetal heart rate: These are interpreted as reactive or nonreactive as the nonstress test had been done. If your baby was able to achieve the heart rate required twice during the examination, the score given will be 2. Conversely, if none is reached, a zero will be given.
- Fetal breathing: If the baby shows rhythmic breathing for at least thirty seconds, a score of 2 is given. If not at all, a zero will be given.
- Fetal movement: If the baby moves his or her extremities more than three time, a score of 2 is given.
- Fetal muscle tone: If the baby can extend, bend, and then extend again in a short period of time a score of 2 is given.
- Amniotic fluid level: The technician will look for a specific area of amniotic fluid. If the pocket does not meet a certain size, a score of zero is given.
In total, a score between 8 and 10 is considered good or excellent. If the score dwindled to 6, a second test may be conducted within 24 hours. A score as low as 4 may mean immediate delivery is required.
For more information, call Women’s HealthFirst at (847) 808-8884 or request your appointment now. We have five locations near Chicago, Illinois, to serve you. Established patients are encouraged to visit the convenient online patient portal to request an appointment, message our team, update their records, and more.