Outcome of fetuses with enlarged nuchal translucency and normal karyotype

C. M. Bilardo, E. Pajkrt, I. de Graaf, B. W. Mol, O. P. Bleker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

140 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between nuchal translucency measurements and outcome of pregnancy with special regard to fetuses with an enlarged nuchal translucency and a normal karyotype. Fetal nuchal translucency measurements were performed on consecutive mothers attending the prenatal diagnosis center of our hospital. A complete follow-up was obtained in 88.4% of the cases. Of the 74 fetuses (4.4%) with an enlarged nuchal translucency (≤ 3 mm), 25 (33.8%) had an abnormal karyotype. Two pregnancies ended in a spontaneous abortion before karyotyping was performed. In the remaining 47 eukaryotic fetuses with enlarged nuchal translucency, five (10.6%) had a structural anomaly, two were affected by genetic syndromes (4.2%) and an additional four fetuses (8.5%) were affected by a single-gene disorder. A spontaneous abortion or an intrauterine death occurred in 6.4% and in 2.1% of these fetuses, respectively. The total incidence of an unfavourable outcome in the group of chromosomally normal fetuses with enlarged nuchal translucency was 32%. In contrast, in the group with a normal nuchal translucency (< 3 mm), the incidence of an unfavorable outcome was 7.5%. There is a strong association between enlarged nuchal translucency measurements and congenital (structural and genetic) abnormalities, as assessed by receiver operator characteristic analysis. This may represent, in fetuses with a normal karyotype, a non-specific sign of a disturbance in the developmental process. In these cases, detailed ultrasound surveillance is recommended.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-406
JournalUltrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1998

Cite this