The clinical performance of the M4 decision support model to triage women with a pregnancy of unknown location as at low or high risk of complications

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Abstract

STUDY QUESTION

What are the adverse outcomes associated with using the M4 model in everyday clinical practice for women with pregnancy of unknown location (PUL)?

SUMMARY ANSWER

There were 17/835 (2.0%) adverse events and no serious adverse events associated with the performance of the M4 model in clinical practice.

WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY

The M4 model has previously been shown to stratify women classified as a PUL as at low or high risk of complications with a good level of test performance. The triage performance of the M4 model is better than single measurements of serum progesterone or the hCG ratio (serum hCG at 48 h/hCG at presentation).

STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION

A prospective multi-centre cohort study of 1022 women with a PUL carried out between August 2012 and December 2013 across 2 university teaching hospitals and 1 district general hospital.

PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS

All women presenting with a PUL to the early pregnancy units of the three hospitals were recruited. The final outcome for PUL was either a failed PUL (FPUL), intrauterine pregnancy (IUP) or ectopic pregnancy (EP) (including persistent PUL (PPUL)), with EP and PPUL considered high-risk PUL. Their hCG results at 0 and 48 h were entered into the M4 model algorithm. If the risk of EP was ≥5%, the PUL was predicted to be high-risk and the participant was asked to re-attend 48 h later for a repeat hCG and transvaginal ultrasound scan by a senior clinician. If the PUL was classified as ‘low risk, likely failed PUL’, the participant was asked to perform a urinary pregnancy test 2 weeks later. If the PUL was classified as ‘low risk, likely intrauterine’, the participant was scheduled for a repeat scan in 1 week. Deviations from the management protocol were recorded as either an ‘unscheduled visit (participant reason)’, ‘unscheduled visit (clinician reason)’ or ‘differences in timing (blood test/ultrasound)’. Adverse events were assessed using definitions outlined in the UK Good Clinical Practice Guidelines' document.

MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE

A total of 835 (82%) women classified as a PUL were managed according to the M4 model (9 met the exclusion criteria, 69 were lost to follow-up, 109 had no hCG result at 48 h). Of these, 443 (53%) had a final outcome of FPUL, 298 (36%) an IUP and 94 (11%) an EP. The M4 model predicted 70% (585/835) PUL as low risk, of which 568 (97%) were confirmed as FPUL or IUP. Of the 17 EP and PPUL misclassified as low risk, 5 had expectant management, 7 medical management with methotrexate and 5 surgical intervention.

MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE

Nineteen PUL had an unscheduled visit (participant reason), 38 PUL had an unscheduled visit (clinician reason) and 68 PUL had deviations from protocol due to a difference in timing (blood test/ultrasound).

MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE

Adverse events were reported in 26 PUL and 1 participant had a serious adverse event. A total of 17/26 (65%) adverse events were misclassifications of a high risk PUL as low risk by the M4 model, while 5/26 (19%) adverse events were related to incorrect clinical decisions. Four of the 26 adverse events (15%) were secondary to unscheduled admissions for pain/bleeding. The serious adverse event was due to an incorrect clinical decision.

LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION

A limitation of the study was that 69/1022 (7%) of PUL were lost to follow-up. A 48 h hCG level was missing for 109/1022 (11%) participants.

WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS

The low number of adverse events (2.0%) suggests that expectant management of PUL using the M4 prediction model is safe. The model is an effective way of triaging women with a PUL as being at high- and low-risk of complications and rationalizing follow-up. The multi-centre design of the study is more likely to make the performance of the M4 model generalizable in other populations.

STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S)

None.

TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER

Not applicable.

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