Objectives: To compare two first-trimester screening strategies: traditional combined screening and the one based on ultrasound markers only. We investigated the effect of maternal age (MA) on the screening performance of both of these strategies.
Methods: This was a prospective observational study based on a non-selected mixed-risk population of 11,653 women referred for first-trimester screening. The study population was divided in two groups: combined screening (CS) and ultrasound-based screening (US). Absolute risk was calculated to determine the influence of MA on screening performance.
Results: The CS arm comprised 5145 subjects including 51 cases of trisomy 21 (T21), and the US arm comprised 5733 subjects including 87 subjects with T21. Seven hundred and seventy-five subjects were excluded from the study. For a false positive rate (FPR) of 3%, the detection rate (DR) of T21 in CS arm was 78% vs. 90% in US arm. For 5% FPR, DR was 84% and 94% in CS and US arm, respectively. MA had an influence on DR positive rates in CS: both DR and FPR for T21 increased with advance in MA.
Conclusions: The US protocol showed higher DR of T21 compared to the CS one. It may be considered as a viable alternative to CS for T21 where access to biochemical testing is limited.