The second-trimester fetus with isolated choroid plexus cysts: a meta-analysis of risk of trisomies 18 and 21

Obstet Gynecol. 1999 May;93(5 Pt 2):869-72. doi: 10.1016/s0029-7844(98)00544-4.


Objective: To assess the risk of trisomy 18 and trisomy 21 associated with isolated choroid plexus cysts diagnosed by ultrasound in the second trimester.

Methods of study selection: We reviewed the unabridged PREMEDLINE and MEDLINE databases for articles written in the English language regarding second-trimester fetal isolated choroid plexus cysts and trisomies 18 and 21, published in the period 1987-1997. Selection criteria included only second-trimester, prospective studies in which the rate of fetal isolated choroid plexus cysts could be calculated, the number of fetuses with trisomy 18 and 21 was reported clearly, and pregnant women of all ages were included, rather than only those at high risk for aneuploidy due to advanced maternal age. TABULATION AND RESULTS: Thirteen prospective studies, comprising 246,545 second-trimester scans, were selected. Among 1346 fetuses with isolated choroid plexus cysts, seven had trisomy 18, and five had trisomy 21. For each study, a 2 x 2 table was constructed and the likelihood ratio of a positive test was computed. The likelihood ratios for trisomies 18 and 21 were found to be homogeneous (P = .08 for trisomy 18, and P = .16 for trisomy 21). The summary likelihood ratio and 95% confidence interval (CI) for each chromosomal abnormality were calculated using the Mantel-Haenszel fixed effects model of meta-analysis. The summary likelihood ratio for trisomy 18 was 13.8 (CI 7.72, 25.14, P < .001) and for trisomy 21 was 1.87 (CI 0.78, 4.46, P = .16).

Conclusion: The likelihood of trisomy 18 was 13.8 times greater than the a priori risk in fetuses with isolated choroid plexus cysts diagnosed in the second trimester. However, the likelihood of trisomy 21 was not significantly greater than the a priori risk with isolated choroid plexus cysts. The data supported offering pregnant women karyotyping to rule out trisomy 18 when maternal age at delivery is 36 years or older, or when the risk for trisomy 18 detected by serum multiple-marker screen is more than one in 3000.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Brain Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain Diseases / embryology
  • Brain Diseases / genetics*
  • Choroid Plexus*
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 18*
  • Cysts / diagnostic imaging
  • Cysts / embryology
  • Cysts / genetics*
  • Down Syndrome* / embryology
  • Female
  • Fetal Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Fetal Diseases / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Second
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Trisomy*
  • Ultrasonography