First-trimester screening for Down syndrome with ductus venosus Doppler studies in addition to nuchal translucency and serum markers

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ObjectiveTo estimate the improvement in screening efficiency when fetal ductus venosus Doppler studies are added to existing first-trimester Down syndrome screening protocols.MethodsStatistical modelling was used with parameters derived from prospective ductus venosus studies and from the published literature. The pulsatility index for veins (PIV), was determined in the fetal ductus venosus for 3706 unaffected and 25 Down syndrome pregnancies at 10-14 weeks' gestation. Concurrent nuchal translucency measurement and maternal serum pregnancy associated plasma protein A and free-β human chorionic gonadotrophin were also measured.ResultsThe median PIV in Down syndrome was 1.70 times higher than in unaffected pregnancies (95% confidence interval 1.36-2.12). PIV levels followed an approximately log Gaussian distribution with log10 standard deviations of 0.193 and 0.076 in Down syndrome and unaffected pregnancies. There were no statistically significant correlations between PIV and the other markers. Modelling predicts that for a fixed 5% false-positive rate, the addition of PIV to nuchal translucency alone will increase the detection rate from 76 to 85%, and combined with serum markers, from 88 to 92%. For a fixed 85% detection rate, the false-positive rate reduced from 15 to 4.8% and from 3.2 to 1.2% respectively.ConclusionDuctus venosus Doppler studies can substantially improve Down syndrome screening efficiency.

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