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Nuchal Translucency May Often Be Underestimated

20 percent of centers have never reported a value higher than 3 mm

THURSDAY, Sept. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Nuchal translucency measurements may be systematically underestimated in many centers, according to research published in the October issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Mark I. Evans, M.D., of Comprehensive Genetics in New York City, and colleagues analyzed data from 182,669 nuchal translucency cases at centers in which at least 100 nuchal translucency examinations were performed from July 2008 through June 2009. Given that approximately 4 percent of nuchal translucency values should be 2.5 mm or higher, the purpose of the study was to determine if more of these centers than expected had reported maximum nuchal translucency values of 2.5 mm or less.

The investigators found that more centers than expected (7.3 percent) reported that their maximum recorded nuchal translucency was only 2.5 mm or lower, and 20 percent had never reported a value above 3 mm. The median nuchal translucency reported by these centers was also lower than expected, and there were excessive reports of low nuchal translucency. The researchers concluded that the data from these centers are not representative of the expected distribution of nuchal translucencies, and may reflect systematic undermeasurement of nuchal translucency.

"Overall, our data suggest a serious problem in the diffusion of nuchal translucency utilization and effectiveness throughout the United States that should be addressed by methods to improve the performance of nuchal translucency measurements -- particularly at centers with lower volumes," the authors write.

Evans is a consultant for, and the other authors are full-time employees of, Perkin Elmer/NTD Laboratories, which performs the biochemical testing and coordinates the nuchal translucency measurement incorporation into algorithms.

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