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Quick Concepts: Acrania vs. Anencephaly

QuickConceptsSeries_Screen_FINAL (1)Within protocols for non-invasive prenatal assessment, ultrasound scanning is now considered essential to track normal and potentially abnormal fetal development.  Scanning in the 1st trimester generally involves assessing an estimated due date, identifying multiple gestations, and ruling out ectopic pregnancy.  Although the fetal heart develops quickly within the 1st trimester, other major organs are not visualized until a 2nd trimester ultrasound examination, typically scheduled between Weeks 18-22.

Acrania Visualized in Ultrasound Scan

Acrania in Ultrasound Scan

As referenced in a previous blog, the challenge for a sonographer in fetal scanning is early identification of pathologies based on nuanced observation.  This is especially relevant (and heart-breaking) when it involves lethal fetal abnormalities.   Acrania and Anencephaly are two lethal cranial abnormalities that have somewhat similar sonographic appearances.  While the effective outcome of either condition is the same, it is important to distinguish the two insomuch as Anencephaly, resulting from neural tube defect, carries a higher possibility of recurrence in future pregnancies.

Here are links to previous Quick Concepts relating to OB/GYN or prenatal scanning:

Quick Concepts – Uterine Positions

Quick Concepts – Uterine Fibroids

Quick Concepts – Fetal Cranial Anatomy

Links to American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM) Official Statements on:

Training Guidelines for Physicians Who Evaluate and Interpret Diagnostic Detailed Fetal Anatomic Ultrasound Examinations

Training Guidelines for Physicians Who Evaluate and Interpret Diagnostic Fetal Echocardiographic Examinations

Statement on the Safe Use of Doppler Ultrasound During 11-14 week scans (or earlier in pregnancy)

Prudent Use in Pregnancy

Frank Miele, MSEE , President of Pegasus Lectures, Inc.  Frank graduated cum laude from Dartmouth College with a triple major in physics, mathematics, and engineering. While at Dartmouth, he was a Proctor Scholar and received citations for academic excellence in comparative literature, atomic physics and quantum mechanics, and real analysis. Frank was a research and design engineer and project leader, designing ultrasound equipment and electronics for more than ten years at Hewlett Packard Company. As a designer of ultrasound, he has lectured across the country to sonographers, physicians, engineers and students on myriad topics.

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