Objectives: The application of rapid aneuploidy testing as a stand-alone approach in prenatal diagnosis is much debated. The major criticism of this targeted approach is that it will not detect other chromosomal abnormalities that will be picked up by traditional karyotyping. This study aimed to study the nature of such chromosomal abnormalities and whether parents would choose to terminate affected pregnancies.
Design: Retrospective study on a cytogenetic database.
Setting: Eight public hospitals in Hong Kong.
Participants: The karyotype results of 19 517 amniotic fluid cultures performed for advanced maternal age (>or=35 years) from 1997 to 2002 were classified according to whether they were detectable by rapid aneuploidy testing. The outcomes of pregnancies with abnormal karyotypes were reviewed from patient records.
Results: In all, 333 (1.7%) amniotic fluid cultures yielded abnormal karyotypes; 175 (52.6%) of these were detected by rapid aneuploidy testing, and included trisomy 21 (n=94, 28.2%), trisomy 18 or 13 (n=21, 6.3%), and sex chromosome abnormalities (n=60, 18.0%). The other 158 (47.4%) chromosomal abnormalities were not detectable by rapid aneuploidy testing, of which 63 (18.9%) were regarded to be of potential clinical significance and 95 (28.5%) of no clinical significance. Pregnancy outcomes in 327/333 (98.2%) of these patients were retrieved. In total, 143 (42.9%) of these pregnancies were terminated: 93/94 (98.9%) for trisomy 21, 20/21 (95.2%) for trisomy 18 or 13, 19/60 (31.7%) for sex chromosome abnormalities, and 11/63 (17.5%) for other chromosomal abnormalities with potential clinical significance. There were no terminations in the 95 pregnancies in which karyotyping results were regarded to be of no clinical significance.
Conclusions: 'Knowing less' by the rapid aneuploidy stand-alone testing could miss about half of all chromosomal abnormalities detectable by amniocentesis performed for advanced maternal age. Findings from two fifths of the latter were of potential clinical significance, and the parents chose to terminate one out of six of the corresponding pregnancies. If both techniques are available, parents could have enhanced autonomy to choose.