Usually when we talk about the misuse of ultrasound technology it has to do with women being forced into interacting with a fetus when they just want an abortion. However, a frightening new study found that the test doctors use to determine whether or not women have miscarried may be flawed. That means that women may be ending wanted pregnancies because their doctor mistakenly tells them they've miscarried.
According to ScienceDaily, doctors often confirm a miscarriage by performing an ultrasound scan to measure the size of the pregnancy sac and embryo. When they aren't sure if the fetus is still viable, doctors will perform another exam seven to 10 days later. If the size of the sac hasn't changed, that's considered confirmation that a miscarriage has occured.
Now a series of studies published in the journal Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology question the effectiveness of that method. One study had pregnant women undergo ultrasounds with several different clinicians. They found that the measurement of the sac varied by as much as 20% from doctor to doctor. If a gynecologist overestimates the size of the sac during the first exam, then underestimates it later, they might conclude that there's no growth, even though the fetus is still viable.
Professor Dirk Timmerman of Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, who co-authored the study, says:
"Many of us in clinical practice have been concerned for some time about possible errors relating to the diagnosis of miscarriage. We are pleased that our data have identified where these errors might occur so that we can prevent mistakes happening in the future."
It's encouraging that the study will help improve the criteria for diagnosing miscarriage, but that isn't very helpful for women who've already experienced a devastating loss, and are now left to wonder if it was just a mistake.
Miscarriage Diagnosis Guidelines Questioned [ScienceDaily]
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