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Detailed screening for fetal anomalies and cardiac defects at the 11–13‐week scan

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To assess the diagnostic efficacy of the first‐trimester anomaly scan including first‐trimester fetal echocardiography as a screening procedure in a ‘medium‐risk’ population.


In a prospective study, we evaluated 3094 consecutive fetuses with a crown–rump length (CRL) of 45–84 mm and gestational age between 11 + 0 and 13 + 6 weeks, using transabdominal and transvaginal ultrasonography. The majority of patients were referred without prior abnormal scan or increased nuchal translucency (NT) thickness, the median maternal age was, however, 35 (range, 15–46) years, and 53.8% of the mothers (1580/2936) were 35 years or older. This was therefore a self‐selected population reflecting an increased percentage of older mothers opting for prenatal diagnosis. The follow‐up rate was 92.7% (3117/3363).


The prevalence of major abnormalities in 3094 fetuses was 2.8% (86/3094). The detection rate of major anomalies at the 11 + 0 to 13 + 6‐week scan was 83.7% (72/86), 51.9% (14/27) for NT < 2.5 mm and 98.3% (58/59) for NT ≥ 2.5 mm. The prevalence of major congenital heart defects (CHD) was 1.2% (38/3094). The detection rate of major CHD at the 11 to 13 + 6‐week scan was 84.2% (32/38), 37.5% (3/8) for NT < 2.5 mm and 96.7% (29/30) for NT ≥ 2.5 mm.


The overall detection rate of fetal anomalies including fetal cardiac defects following a specialist scan at 11 + 0 to 13 + 6 weeks' gestation is about 84% and is increased when NT ≥ 2.5 mm. This extends the possibilities of a first‐trimester scan beyond risk assessment for fetal chromosomal defects. In experienced hands with adequate equipment, the majority of severe malformations as well as major CHD may be detected at the end of the first trimester, which offers parents the option of deciding early in pregnancy how to deal with fetuses affected by genetic or structural abnormalities without pressure of time. Copyright © 2006 ISUOG. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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Keywords: 11–13‐week scan; fetal anomalies; fetal echocardiography; nuchal translucency

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 June 2006

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