Role of the second-trimester 'genetic sonogram' for Down syndrome screen in the era of first-trimester screening and noninvasive prenatal testing

Anthony O Odibo, Alessandro Ghidini
Prenatal Diagnosis 2014, 34 (6): 511-7
Ultrasonography for the screening of Down syndrome was first introduced about 25 years ago. Different combinations of markers detectable at second-trimester ultrasonography have been proposed under the banner of 'genetic sonogram'. In recent years, several developments in first-trimester screening and the recent introduction of noninvasive prenatal testing for aneuploidy screening have had important implications for the prevalence of these conditions in the second-trimester and the screening performance of a genetic sonogram. Several second-trimester sonographic markers for Down syndrome have been reported; meta-analysis has shown that the most powerful predictors are mild ventriculomegaly, increased nuchal fold, hyperechoic bowel, and absent or hypoplastic nasal bone. Whereas use of individual markers should be discouraged and scoring systems of multiple markers are now obsolete, use of combined likelihood ratio and logistic regression analysis formulae provides better accuracy. However, there is significant heterogeneity in results among studies. Despite such limitations, the genetic sonogram will continue to have a place in prenatal screening, particularly in twin and higher-order multiple pregnancies, in countries with limited access to the most recent genetic screening tests, in cases with borderline results at maternal serum screening tests, and as noninvasive supplementary test for high-risk women reluctant to undergo invasive diagnostic testing.

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