Incorrect diagnoses of miscarriage14th October 2011
Concerns have been raised by doctors that some pregnancies are being terminated unnecessarily after an incorrect diagnosis of miscarriage.
While the true scale of the problem is not clear, researchers say that there is too much room for error in ultrasound scans in the first six weeks, which wrongly label a small percentage of embryos as miscarried.
The guidelines are currently being reviewed but studies suggest that under the current rules as any as 400 viable pregnancies may have been misclassified.
Women who experiences pain or bleeding in the first five to six weeks or pregnancy will have an ultrasound scan.
From that, if the embryo is greater than 6mm long but without a heartbeat, or the pregnancy sac is greater than 20mm with no visible embryo, it could suggest a miscarriage, which could then lead to a decision to terminate the pregnancy.
A series of papers published in Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynaecology have questioned these thresholds.
One said such guidelines were based on poor evidence while another said there were variation sin measurements made by different clinicians.
Professor Tom Bourne from Imperial College London said: “We found that the cut-off values were not entirely safe because they can be associated with a misdiagnosis of miscarriage in a small number of cases, and our view is that there shouldn't be any risk.”
He argues the cut-offs should be about 25mm instead of 20mm for the sac and 7mm for an embryo without a heartbeat. He also wants a greater emphasis on repeat scans.
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