Early Pregnancy Scanning for Fetal Anomalies—The New Standard?
For many years, significant efforts have been made toward attempts at early detection of chromosomal and structural malformations, to lower the rate of these defects in newborns. Traditionally, the main ultrasound examination during pregnancy was performed in the second trimester, using transabdominal transducers. The development of high-frequency and high-resolution (5 to 9 MHz; 6 to 12 MHz) transvaginal probes along with substantial improvements in image and signal processing have opened new possibilities for the investigation of early pregnancy. Up until the recent past, many defects were considered unidentifiable early in pregnancy. A large number of those can now be diagnosed already in the first trimester. Early detection of fetal anomalies enables karyotyping by chorionic villus sampling and, in those patients in whom findings are abnormal, simpler procedures for termination of pregnancy may be performed. This may reduce physical and psychological morbidity associated with second-trimester abortions.
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