A biophysical profile (BPP) is a test done during pregnancy to measure the health of the fetus (unborn baby). It includes a nonstress test, along with electronic fetal heart monitoring and fetal ultrasound. The tests measure and give a biophysical profile of five areas - the heart rate, movement, muscle tone, breathing and the quantity of amniotic fluid surrounding the fetus.
Usually a BPP is done by a radiologist or an ultrasound technologist, or by your obstetrician in the clinic, office or hospital. Most doctors prefer a modified biophysical profile, combining amniotic fluid index with a non-stress test.
In this, your baby's heart rate is monitored with an external device – two flat sensors - strapped on to your belly. The sensors are connected to a machine which measures and records the duration of the contractions as well as the heart rate of the baby. The test takes around 30 minutes.
You are required to have a full bladder for this. As you lie on the examination table, a gel is spread over your abdomen. A transducer, which is a small hand-held instrument, is moved over your abdomen, helping to project images of the fetus on a monitor. These are reviewed by the doctor or a radiologist and give an indication of the health of the fetus. The procedure may last almost 60 minutes.
You will be given a score measuring the health of your baby in the five areas mentioned above. If the score is 8 to 10 points, it means the baby is healthy. If the score is 6 to 8 points, you may have to go in for another test in 12 to 24 hours. If the score is less than 4, it may indicate some problems.