Intrapartum monitors or fetal monitors are deployed during pregnancy, labor and delivery to record the heart rate of the fetus along with strength and duration of uterus contractions. In addition fetal monitoring is performed to identify certain conditions such as cerebral plasy, fetal; death or hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. External and internal monitoring can be performed to record the heart beat of the baby. External monitoring of baby’s heart beat is facilitated with the help of special stethoscope and more commonly two sensors that measures the baby’s heartbeat and duration of uterine contractions respectively. Sometimes remote monitoring platforms (telemetry) can be employed for external monitoring. Internal monitoring can be performed only post dilation of cervix and in the presence of ruptured amniotic sac.
Internal monitoring is facilitated with the help of a sensor attached to the thigh and an electrode is inserted through vagina and cervix into the uterus and then the electrode is attached to the baby’s scalp. Internal monitoring is more reliable and accurate than external monitoring to keep a track of uterine contractions and baby’s heartbeat. Fetal monitoring or intrapartum monitoring is performed with the help of handheld Doppler device, electronic fetal monitor or sometimes with a Pinard fetoscope. Continuous electronic fetal monitoring is performed with the help of transducers held by stretchy bands against abdomen; however, some patients find it uncomfortable to have the transducers strapped during labor
If the fetal heart rate (FHR) is normal then intermittent auscultation or continuous electronic fetal monitoring techniques can be employed in low risk patients. However, if the FHR is abnormal interventions such as maternal oxygenation, intravenous fluid administration are employed. Fetal scalp pH sampling or fetal stimulation is used in the cases where the continuous electronic fetal monitoring is indeterminate and employed to assess the presence of a condition known as fetal academia. Some of the Intrapartum monitoring devices are Fetatrack 360 Cardiotocograph (Ultrasound Technologies, Ltd.), Huntleigh Sonicaid TeamIPTrend Intrapartum Fetal monitor with trend printer, Nicolet VersaLab APM, APM2 (Natus Medical, Inc.) and others.
The product type segment can be further categorized into fetal Dopplers, electronic fetal monitoring and remote fetal monitoring devices. North America and European countries provide lucrative growth opportunities for intrapartum monitors. This is attributable to increased adoption rates, high awareness levels, presence of well equipped healthcare facilities and continuous technological advances in these regions as compared to other regions such as Asia-Pacific and Rest of the World (RoW). Asia-Pacific and Rest of the World provide considerable growth prospects owing to low awareness levels and lack of sophisticated healthcare infrastructure.
Some of the major factors influencing the growth of intrapartum monitors are increasing need of novel monitoring technologies, increased possibility of high risk pregnancy and increased preference for minimally invasive technologies. The reason for high risk pregnancy cases are changing lifestyles, delayed pregnancy, increasing obesity and others. On the contrary, the reliability of the devices and degree of comfort of the patients are some of the factors that might hamper the growth of the intrapartum monitors. The major companies competing in this market are Allen Medical Instruments Corporation, Analogic Corporation, Med-Electronics, Inc., Paramed Medical Systems, Natus Medical, Inc., Huntleigh Sonicaid and Terason Ultrasound
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