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April 15, 1961

Gas in the Fetal Circulation—Reliable Antepartum Roentgen Sign of Fetal Death

Author Affiliations

Brooklyn, N. Y.

Associate Radiologist, Kings County Hospital Medical Center.

JAMA. 1961;176(2):152-154. doi:10.1001/jama.1961.63040150013018d

THE ANTEPARTUM ROENTGEN demonstration of gas in the fetal circulation is the most important pathognomonic sign of fetal death. The phenomenon of visualized gas in the fetal circulation has never been observed in a fetus which was subsequently delivered alive. Wider dissemination of information about this phenomenon is warranted.

Gas in the fetal circulation associated with fetal death was first described by Roberts,11 of Victoria, B. C., in 1944. He diagnosed fetal death from antepartum roentgenograms in which there was a clear demonstration of gas in the cardiac chambers and blood vessels, and corroborated the finding by postpartum roentgen studies and autopsy. Many confirmatory reports have been published.

In the approximately 100 cases reported,2-4, 9, 12-16 antepartum roentgenograms revealed gas in the fetal heart and/or larger vessels or umbilical cord. The vessels in the liver were occasionally seen. In rare instances gas was visible about the kidneys. The