Computerised cardiotocography in a high-risk unit in a developing country - Its influence on inter-observer variation and duration of recording

Steyn D.W. ; Odendaal H.J. (1996)


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Objective. To determine the role of computer-assisted cardiotocography in an obstetric special care unit and its influence on inter-observer variation in interpretation, proposed management and monitoring time. Design. A prospective comparative study. Setting. The obstetric special care unit, Tygerberg Hospital, W. Cape. Study population. A group of 10 registrars in obstetrics who have had experience in the interpretation of both standard and computer-assisted cardiotocographs. Main outcome measures. The influence of method of cardiotocograph recording on inter-observer variation in respect of suggested management of the patient, as well as the observer's opinion of the duration of the recording. Results. Variation in suggested management decreased significantly after assessment of the computer reports, compared with the standard cardiotocographs. While delivery was regarded to be indicated in 3.5% of patients and an immediate repeat of the cardiotocograph in a further 10%, no such action was proposed after evaluation of the computer reports of the same recordings. Thirty-four per cent of tracings were considered to have been too long and 12.5% too short. However, suggested management in 40% of the latter cases seemed inappropriate for tracings regarded as of too short a duration. Conclusion. While computer-assisted cardiotocographs significantly decrease inter-observer variation in the proposed management of patients, its cost-effectiveness in an obstetric special care unit in a developing country should be validated, as it might increase monitoring time.

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