Mark I. Evans*, Eric L. Krivchenia, Yuval Yaron

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Historically, obstetrician/gynaecologists have utilized screening procedures as a major component of their routine clinical practice. The Papanicolaou (Pap) smear technique for cervical cancer is more than 50 years old and has saved countless lives by identifying who among the supposedly low-risk group of patients is in fact at high risk of cervical cancer. The introduction of alpha-fetoprotein screening for neural tube defects in the 1970s, low alpha-fetoprotein level for Down syndrome in the 80s, multiple markers in the 90s and now, after the millennium combined ultrasound and biochemistry for a more precise risk identification, has radically changed our approach towards optimizing the sensitivity, specificity and positive and negative predictive values of screening. As these techniques improve, old mainstays of attributable risks such as advanced maternal age will probably fade into oblivion as stand-alone criteria. The specifics of screening techniques will vary by disorder, but the general principles are important and can be applied to all new technologies as they come on line. In fact, the real 'take-home message' is that one must use these principles when looking at new technologies to understand their role in emerging practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)645-657
Number of pages13
JournalBest Practice and Research: Clinical Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Biochemical screening
  • Fetal cells in maternal blood
  • Prenatal diagnosis
  • Screening


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