[Ultrasound screening for birth defects: A medico-economic review]

Gynecol Obstet Fertil Senol. Jul-Aug 2017;45(7-8):408-415. doi: 10.1016/j.gofs.2017.06.007. Epub 2017 Jul 15.
[Article in French]


Objectives: The systematic use of ultrasound during pregnancy aims at birth defect detection. Our objective was to assess the economic efficiency of prenatal ultrasound screening for fetal malformations.

Methods: We carried out a literature review on Medline via PubMed between 1985 and 2015, from the economic perspective of the prenatal ultrasound screening for fetal malformations.

Results: The literature on this subject was sparse and we selected only twelve articles presenting relevant economic data, of which only eight were proper medico-economic studies. We found arguments for the economic effectiveness of ultrasound screening for fetal malformation detection, which is largely linked to the terminations of pregnancies and to the cost of the handicaps "avoided". However, none of the reviewed articles could reach medico-economic conclusions. Additionally, we highlighted various elements making economic analyses more complex in this field: the choice of the method, the uncertainty around two essential parameters (the efficiency of ultrasound and the costs of procedures) and the difficulties to compare or to generalize results. We also noticed important methodological heterogeneity among the studies and the absence of French study.

Conclusions: Previously published data are insufficient to assess the economic efficiency of prenatal ultrasound screening for fetal malformations.

Keywords: Analyse médico-économique; Birth defect; Dépistage; Malformation fœtale; Medico-economic study; Prenatal ultrasound; Screening; Échographie prénatale.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Congenital Abnormalities / diagnostic imaging*
  • Congenital Abnormalities / embryology*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening
  • Pregnancy
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal / economics*