Early detection of fetal structural abnormalities

Boaz Weisz, Eva Pajkrt, Eric Jauniaux

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Most published data on the detection of fetal anomalies at 11-14 weeks are from specialized centres with considerable experience in fetal anomaly scanning. However, there is still limited information on the feasibility and limitations of the screening of these anomalies compared with the now classical mid-gestation screening. This review indicates that overall, the detection rate of fetal anomalies at 11-14 weeks is 44% compared with 74% by the mid-pregnancy scan. Major abnormalities of the fetal head, abdominal wall and urinary tract, and of the umbilical cord and placenta, can be reliably detected at 10-11 weeks of gestation. Detection of other anomalies such as spina bifida, diaphragmatic hernia or heart defects is limited before 13 weeks of gestation. So far it cannot be stated that routine first trimester screening can be used on a large scale to evaluate the fetal spine and heart in the general population. In particular, in screening for congenital heart defects, the ability to perform a full cardiac examination increases from 20% at 11 weeks to 92% at 13 weeks. The early prenatal diagnosis of these anomalies may be improved by screening at 13-14 weeks rather than during the first trimester.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1655
Pages (from-to)541-553
Number of pages13
JournalReproductive BioMedicine Online
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Anomalies
  • Detection rate
  • Fetal
  • Ultrasound


Dive into the research topics of 'Early detection of fetal structural abnormalities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this