New Procedure Safer for Detecting Foetal Anaemia

Definitely better than a needle:
an ultrasonic tool on the belly
© Picture Disk

"The research clearly demonstrates that this new procedure, Doppler ultrasonography, provides a safe and non-invasive method to test for foetal anaemia which is far less traumatic to the mother and foetus than traditional testing," said Dr. Seaward, who co-led the study and is Director of Labour and Delivery at Mount Sinai Hospital and Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Toronto. "We hope more high risk perinatal centres will follow suit and adopt this innovative practice."

Researchers studied 187 mothers-to-be who had been diagnosed with Rhesus disease, one cause of foetal anaemia. This condition allows antibodies to enter the foetus from the mother. Although Rhesus disease is not the only cause of foetal anaemia, when mothers have this condition it is more likely that the foetus will develop anaemia and therefore it is critical to test these high-risk patients. Those foetuses with severe anaemia are treated with foetal blood transfusion while still in the uterus.

Seaward believes the research will lead to an important and exciting shift in practice whereby physicians will be able to accurately follow foetuses at risk of anaemia through the Doppler ultrasonography procedure alone. The test is both effective for mothers who have Rhesus disease, as well as those who are at risk of foetal anaemia from alternate causes.

"Traditionally, testing for foetal anaemia involved an amniocenteses procedure, where a needle is inserted into the amniotic cavity under ultrasound guidance. This method is highly invasive and uncomfortable for the mother, and carries a risk of miscarriage of the pregnancy, as well as a risk of worsening the foetal anaemia," explains Seaward. "The Doppler ultrasonography test poses no risk to the foetus as it is simply an ultrasound."

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Toronto