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Doppler Ultrasound Predicts Risk Of Miscarriage

Doppler ultrasound performed in early pregnancy can accurately identify embryonic congestive heart failure and subsequent risk of miscarriage, according to research presented today at the 2003 Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).  Doppler ultrasound is typically used to confirm normal embryonic heart function at six weeks of gestation.  Once confirmed, the chances of a viable pregnancy are greatly increased.  On the other hand, nearly all pregnancies with an abnormal Doppler pattern do not continue. 

Miscarriage is the most common complication of pregnancy occurring in approximately 20 percent of recognized pregnancies, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Researchers performed endovaginal ultrasound imaging on 1,530 pregnant women to evaluate embryonic heart function early in the first trimester. With endovaginal ultrasound, a probe is inserted into the vagina.   Using high-resolution ultrasound imaging and highly sensitive Doppler, researchers were able to identify congestive heart failure in embryos. The condition is characterized by increased free amniotic fluid and evidence of depressed myocardial contractility (ability of the cardiac muscle to shorten itself). With the new Doppler technology, embryonic congestive heart failure is easily identified and, according to the study results, can be implicated in 40 percent of miscarriages.

Created: 1/19/2004  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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