Objective: To assess the potential of first-trimester sonography in the detection of fetal abnormalities using an extended protocol that is achievable with reasonable resources of time, personnel and ultrasound equipment.
Methods: This was a prospective two-center 2-year study of 5472 consecutive unselected pregnant women examined at 12 to 13 + 6 gestational weeks. Women were examined using an extended morphogenetic ultrasound protocol that, in addition to the basic evaluation, involved a color Doppler cardiac sweep and identification of early contingent markers for major abnormalities.
Results: The prevalence of lethal and severe malformations was 1.39%. The first-trimester scan identified 40.6% of the cases detected overall and 76.3% of major structural defects. The first-trimester detection rate (DR) for major congenital heart disease (either isolated or associated with extracardiac abnormalities) was 90% and that for major central nervous system anomalies was 69.5%. In fetuses with increased nuchal translucency (NT), the first-trimester DR for major anomalies was 96%, and in fetuses with normal NT it was 66.7%. Most (67.1%) cases with major abnormalities presented with normal NT.
Conclusions: A detailed first-trimester anomaly scan using an extended protocol is an efficient screening method to detect major fetal structural abnormalities in low-risk pregnancies. It is feasible at 12 to 13 + 6 weeks with ultrasound equipment and personnel already used for routine first-trimester screening. Rate of detection of severe malformations is greater in early- than in mid-pregnancy and on postnatal evaluation. Early heart investigation could be improved by an extended protocol involving use of color Doppler.
Keywords: color Doppler; congenital abnormalities; first trimester; prenatal diagnosis; screening; ultrasound.
Copyright © 2013 ISUOG. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.