Role of dysfunctional maternal venous hemodynamics in the pathophysiology of pre-eclampsia: a review

Wilfried Gyselaers*, W. Mullens, Kathleen Tomsin, Tinne Mesens, L. Peeters

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The venous compartment has an important function in regulation and control of cardiac output. Abnormalities of cardiac output have been found in early gestational stages of both early-and late-onset pre-eclampsia. The venous compartment also maintains the balance between circulating and non-circulating blood volumes and regulates the amount of reserve blood stored in the splanchnic venous bed. It is well known that adaptive regulation of maternal blood volume is disturbed in pre-eclampsia. Abnormal venous hemodynamics and venous congestion are responsible for secondary dysfunction of several organs, such as the kidneys in cardiorenal syndrome and the liver in cardiac cirrhosis. Renal and liver dysfunctions are among the most relevant clinical features of pre-eclampsia. Doppler sonography studies have shown that the maternal venous compartment is subject to gestational adaptation, and that blood flow characteristics at the level of renal interlobar and hepatic veins are different in pre-eclampsia compared with uncomplicated pregnancy. In comparison to late-onset pre-eclampsia, in early-onset pre-eclampsia venous Doppler flow abnormalities are more prominent and present up to weeks before clinical symptoms. This paper reviews the growing evidence that dysfunction of maternal venous hemodynamics is part of the pathophysiology of pre-eclampsia and may perhaps be more important than is currently considered. Doppler sonography is a safe and easily performed method with which to study maternal venous hemodynamics. Therefore, exploring the role of maternal venous hemodynamics using Doppler sonography is an exciting new research topic for those who are interested in cardiovascular background mechanisms, as well as prediction and clinical work-up of pre-eclampsia. ISUOG. Published by
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-129
JournalUltrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011


  • Doppler
  • gestational physiology
  • maternal veins
  • pre-eclampsia
  • venous hemodynamics


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