Objective: Since 1998, French multidisciplinary prenatal diagnosis centers (CPDPN) offer a training opportunity to first-level screening sonographers. This study measures the impact of this training on prenatal detection rates of congenital heart diseases (CHDs).
Methods: We analyzed the sensitivity of screening sonographers by comparing CHD prenatal diagnoses and CHDs observed after birth in the area of Angers from 1994 to 2006. Two groups of sonographers were compared, those who attended the training (n=19) and those who did not (control group. n=21). The evolution of CHD detection rate was compared between two successive periods of 6 years each.
Results: Of 947 CHDs, 438 (46%) were detected prenatally. The control group sensitivity was 16 versus 37% for the sonographers who had attended the training course (p<0.001).Between the two study periods, detection rates for all CHDs and significant CHDs remained unchanged in the control group, whereas they improved significantly in the other group (respectively 54% vs 33% and 75% vs 38%, p<0.05).
Conclusion: This study supports the hypothesis of a beneficial effect of CPDPN on prenatal diagnosis of CHDs. These centers not only fulfill their primary purpose but also operate as learning centers in which screening sonographers may improve their practice.