Correlation of prenatal ultrasound diagnosis and pathologic findings in fetal anomalies

Chen Chih J Sun, Kathryn Grumbach, Donna T. Decosta, Carol M. Meyers, Jeffrey S. Dungan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


This retrospective study compared the prenatal ultrasound (US) diagnosis with autopsy findings in 61 intact fetuses following induced abortion and 36 fragmented fetuses from dilatation and evacuation (D and E). In intact fetuses, complete agreement between US diagnosis and autopsy findings was achieved in 65.6% of cases in the central nervous system (CNS) and 47.5% in other somatic organ systems (SOS). There were major differences between US and autopsy findings involving the CNS in 6.5% of cases and SOS in 27.9%. Correlation was better for evaluation of renal anomalies (complete agreement in 63.6% of 11 suspected cases, 2 false-positive and no false-negative cases) than congenital heart disease (complete agreement in 27.3% of 11 suspected cases, 5 false-positive and 3 false-negative cases). In D and E specimens, a prenatal diagnosis of neural tube defect (NTD) was confirmed in 90% of cases. However, due to fragmentation of fetal parts, the US diagnosis in the CNS could not be confirmed totally (69.4%) or partially (2.8%) in fetuses with chromosomal abnormalities (ChA) or multiple congenital anomalies (MCA). Nonetheless, the US diagnosis of SOS was confirmed in six cases on D and E, including Meckel-Gruber syndrome, cystic hygroma, renal agenesis with contralateral renal dysplasia, cardiac defect, fetal hydrops, and tracheal atresia. Our results show that a thorough autopsy of an intact fetus after abortion is necessary to confirm prenatal diagnosis and allow proper management and counseling. The pathologic examination of D and E specimens can reliably confirm the US diagnosis of NTD, but it is very limited in identifying other fetal anomalies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-142
Number of pages12
JournalPediatric and Developmental Pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1999


  • Chromosomal abnormality
  • Dilatation and evacuation
  • Fetal autopsy
  • Multiple congenital anomalies
  • Neural tube defect
  • Prenatal ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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