Objective: The significance of isolated choroid plexus cysts found by ultrasonographic scan during the second trimester as a marker for trisomy 18 is still debated. We analyzed our data and reviewed the series published in the English-language literature to calculate the likelihood ratio of trisomy 18 in the presence of isolated choroid plexus cysts; that is, the factor by which the individual risk of trisomy 18 is increased in the presence of isolated choroid plexus cysts.
Study design: Likelihood ratios were calculated as ratio of the sensitivity to the false-positive rate. Sensitivity was defined as the rate of isolated choroid plexus cysts detected at midgestation among fetuses with trisomy 18. False-positive rate was defined as the rate of choroid plexus cysts detected at midgestation in the population without trisomy 18. The sensitivities of all published series reporting rates of choroid plexus cysts at the time of the first ultrasonographic examination between 14 and 24 weeks' gestation in populations with trisomy 18 and in low-risk populations were included in the analysis. To these we added all cases of trisomy 18 diagnosed at our institution during the period January 1, 1988, through June 30, 1998, in which prenatal ultrasonographic examination was performed between 14 and 24 weeks' gestation.
Results: The prevalence of second-trimester ultrasonographic detection of isolated choroid plexus cysts among fetuses with trisomy 18 was 6.7% (13/194), whereas that in the population without trisomy 18 was 0.9% (752/79,583). The likelihood ratio associated with isolated choroid plexus cysts was therefore 7.09 (95% confidence interval, 3.97-12.18).
Conclusion: The presence of isolated second-trimester choroid plexus cysts increases the base risk of trisomy 18 by a factor of 7.09. This likelihood ratio can be multiplied by the risk calculated according to maternal age to obtain the individual risk of trisomy 18 and thus permit more accurate counseling of the patient.