The diagnosis of early pregnancy failure by sonar

Br J Obstet Gynaecol. 1975 Nov;82(11):849-57. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.1975.tb00588.x.


In a series of 425 consecutive patients examined by sonar in the first half of pregnancy 176 ultimately aborted. On analysis of the sonar and post-abortion findings it was found that the aborted pregnancies fell into five clearly defined groups; blighted ova or anembryonic pregnancies, missed abortions, hydatidiform moles and early and late live abortions. The blighted ova and the missed abortions comprised by far the largest and the early live abortions the smallest groups. Strict diagnostic sonar criteria of abnormality, independent of menstrual or clinical histories, were established for the first three of the groups, and an absolute diagnosis could be made at the time of the first examination in all cases of missed abortion and hydatidiform mole and in just over half of the cases of blighted ovum, the remainder requiring a second and occasionally a third examination. In the first half of the study the majority of the patients were allowed to abort spontaneously but with increasing confidence in the techniques patients were offered termination whenever the diagnosis of an abortive pregnancy was made. Anticipation of fetal death in utero or impending abortion of a live fetus proved to be a much more difficult problem, and in only those patients who aborted a live fetus before the tenth week of pregnancy did the sonar examination reveal any significant abnormality. Possible aetiological backgrounds to these groups of abortions are discussed in the light of the sonar findings.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Missed / diagnosis
  • Abortion, Spontaneous / diagnosis*
  • Abortion, Spontaneous / etiology
  • Female
  • Fetal Death / diagnosis
  • Fetal Heart / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hydatidiform Mole / diagnosis
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / diagnosis
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Second
  • Ultrasonography*