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Nuchal cord

Leonhard Schaffer, MD
Roland Zimmermann, MD
Section Editors
Lynn L Simpson, MD
Deborah Levine, MD
Deputy Editor
Vanessa A Barss, MD, FACOG


A loop of umbilical cord around the fetal neck (nuchal cord) is a common finding at delivery. In most cases, it is not associated with a significant increase in the rate of any clinically important adverse fetal/neonatal outcome. In case reports and small case series, tight nuchal cords have been associated with adverse outcomes, including fetal asphyxia and demise, but causality has not been proven. This topic will discuss issues related to prenatal diagnosis of nuchal cords, pregnancy and intrapartum management, and potential outcomes.


The term nuchal cord describes an umbilical cord that passes 360 degrees around the fetal neck. Nuchal cords can be classified as [1]:

Single or multiple

Loose or tight (ie, compressing the fetal neck)

Type A or B (figure 1)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Oct 03, 2017.
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