Perinatal pathologic examination of nonintact, second-trimester fetal demise specimens: The value of standardization

Lori M. Gawron*, Cassing Hammond, Linda M. Ernst

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Context.-Management of second-trimester intrauterine fetal demise via dilation and evacuation results in nonintact specimens for pathologic examination. Surgical pathology examination is often mandated; however, evidence on expected findings and specimen evaluation guidelines are lacking. Objective.-To assess pathologic findings of nonintact, second-trimester fetal demise specimens, through comparison of anatomic abnormalities identified on standardized perinatal examination to individualized general pathology examinations. Design.-Single institution, retrospective chart review of 14- to 24-week gestational size fetal demise cases was conducted from May 2006 to October 2010. Suspected abnormalities, chromosomal and pathologic diagnoses were collected. A general surgical pathology examination occurred between May 2006 and October 2008, while a perinatal pathologist examined specimens between October 2008 and October 2010. Statistical analysis consisted of t tests and χ2 tests by Stata/SE 12.1. Results.-One hundred eighteen specimens were included and mean gestational size was 16.0 weeks (standard deviation, 1.6 weeks). Perinatal pathologic evaluation diagnosed significantly more abnormalities than did general pathologic examination (77.3% [34 of 44] versus 9.5% [7 of 75], P < .001). Forty-eight abnormalities were identified: 77.0% (n = 37) were placental and 23.0% (n = 11) were fetal. Chromosomal analysis was done on 73.7% (n = 87 of 118) with 12.6% (n = 11 of 87) showing abnormalities. Among aneuploid specimens, the perinatal pathologist confirmed abnormalities in 66.7% (n =4 of 6) of cases while general pathologists confirmed abnormalities in 0% (n = 0 of 5) (P = .02). Conclusions.-Systematic surgical pathology examination of nonintact, second-trimester fetal demise specimens yields increased information on fetal or placental abnormalities, which may be clinically useful. Institutions with high-risk obstetrical practices and dilation and evacuation providers should consider integrating a standardized perinatal checklist into educational and practice guidelines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1083-1087
Number of pages5
JournalArchives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Medical Laboratory Technology


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