Diagnostic value of fetal autopsy after early termination of pregnancy for fetal anomalies


Background: In early terminations of pregnancy for fetal anomaly (TOPFA) without identified cytogenetic abnormality, a fetal autopsy is recommended for diagnostic purposes, to guide genetic counseling. Medical induction, which allows analysis of a complete fetus, is generally preferred over surgical vacuum aspiration. Our objective was to assess the diagnostic value of fetal autopsies in these early terminations, relative to the first-trimester ultrasound, overall and by termination method.

Materials: For this retrospective study at the Port Royal Maternity Hospital, we identified all TOPFA performed from 11 weeks to 16 weeks diagnosed at the first-trimester ultrasound in cases with a normal karyotype. The principal endpoint was the additional value of the autopsy over /compared to the ultrasound and its impact on genetic counseling, globally and by termination method. The secondary objective was to compare the complication rate by method of termination.

Results: The study included 79 women during period of 2013-2017: 42 with terminations by medical induction and 37 by aspiration. Fetal autopsy found additional abnormalities in 54.4% of cases, more frequently after medical induction (77.5%) than after aspiration (21.4%, p < .01). Genetic counseling was modified in 20.6% of cases, more often after induction (32.5% vs 3.6%, p < .01). The length of stay was significantly longer and a secondary aspiration was required in 16,7% of case in the medical induction group (p < .01).

Conclusion: Medically induced vaginal expulsion appears preferable and can change genetic counseling for subsequent pregnancies.