Crash sign: new first-trimester sonographic marker of spina bifida

F Ushakov, A Sacco, E Andreeva, S Tudorache, T Everett, A L David, P P Pandya
Ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology 2019, 54 (6): 740-745

OBJECTIVES: To describe a new first-trimester sonographic sign, the 'crash sign', associated with fetal open spina bifida, and to evaluate its clinical usefulness in the first-trimester diagnosis of spina bifida.

METHODS: This was a retrospective review of patients referred to three fetal medicine centers in the first trimester (11 + 0 to 13 + 6 weeks) with suspected spina bifida. Spina bifida was confirmed by direct visualization of the spinal defect on ultrasound by two experts and, when possible, by fetal postmortem examination. Ultrasound images were reviewed for the presence of the crash sign, which is the posterior displacement of the mesencephalon and deformation against the occipital bone in the axial view. The first-trimester ultrasound images of a mixed group of 10 cases and 40 control fetuses without spina bifida were assessed for the presence of the crash sign by two assessors blinded to the diagnosis.

RESULTS: The crash sign was present in 48 out of 53 confirmed cases of spina bifida. Of these, 27 had isolated spina bifida and 21 had an associated anomaly. Of the five cases without the crash sign, one had isolated spina bifida and four had an associated anomaly. The crash sign was not reported in any of the control fetuses.

CONCLUSIONS: We have described a new first-trimester sonographic marker for the diagnosis of spina bifida. Our results suggest that the crash sign may be a useful tool in the first-trimester detection of spina bifida. Prospective evaluation of the crash sign would be beneficial, ideally in a routine clinical screening ultrasound setting. Copyright © 2019 ISUOG. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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