Prospective outcomes of pregnant ED patients with documented fetal cardiac activity on ultrasound

Am J Emerg Med. 2012 Mar;30(3):472-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2010.12.023. Epub 2011 Feb 18.


Background: Evaluation of rates of spontaneous abortion (SAB) may aid in counseling pregnant patients seen in the emergency department (ED). A recent chart review reported an SAB rate of 10% among ED patients with a documented intrauterine pregnancy (IUP) and cardiac activity on ultrasound. We sought to prospectively evaluate outcomes among pregnant ED patients with documented cardiac activity on ultrasound.

Methods: We prospectively enrolled a convenience sample of pregnant patients presenting to the University of Utah ED between January 1, 2008, and April 30, 2009. Ultrasound was performed during the ED visit. Patient outcomes were followed up 30 days after the ED visit. Patients were contacted by telephone or the medical record was reviewed for documentation of pregnancy status.

Results: Seventy-one patients with an IUP and documented fetal cardiac activity were enrolled. We were able to obtain 30-day follow-up information on 61 patients (85.9%). Average patient age was 26.7 years (range, 17-42 years), average reported gravida was 3.3 (range, 1-8), and average gestational age was 10 weeks. Nine patients (14.8%; 95% confidence interval, 8.7%-23.9%) either reported or had a documented SAB during the 30 days after the ED visit.

Conclusion: In this study, which represents the first prospective evaluation of ED patients with documented IUP with fetal heart tones, the rate of SAB was consistent with that reported previously for this population. These results confirm that ED patients represent a high-risk group, and additional research is needed to better characterize risk factors for SAB.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain*
  • Abortion, Spontaneous / epidemiology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Fetal Heart / diagnostic imaging
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications*
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Pregnancy Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal
  • Utah
  • Uterine Hemorrhage*
  • Young Adult