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Am J Hum Genet. May 1993; 52(5): 854–865.
PMCID: PMC1682052

Rapid prenatal diagnosis of chromosomal aneuploidies by fluorescence in situ hybridization: clinical experience with 4,500 specimens.


Detection of chromosome aneuploidies in uncultured amniocytes is possible using fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). We herein describe the results of the first clinical program which utilized FISH for the rapid detection of chromosome aneuploidies in uncultured amniocytes. FISH was performed on physician request, as an adjunct to cytogenetics in 4,500 patients. Region-specific DNA probes to chromosomes 13, 18, 21, X, and Y were used to determine ploidy by analysis of signal number in hybridized nuclei. A sample was considered to be euploid when all autosomal probes generated two hybridization signals and when a normal sex chromosome pattern was observed in greater than or equal to 80% of hybridized nuclei. A sample was considered to be aneuploid when greater than or equal to 70% of hybridized nuclei displayed the same abnormal hybridization pattern for a specific probe. Of the attempted analyses, 90.2% met these criteria and were reported as informative to referring physicians within 2 d of receipt. Based on these reporting parameters, the overall detection rate for aneuploidies was 73.3% (107/146), with an accuracy of informative results for aneuploidies of 93.9% (107/114). Compared to cytogenetics, the accuracy of all informative FISH results, euploid and aneuploid, was 99.8%, and the specificity was 99.9%. In those pregnancies where fetal abnormalities had been observed by ultrasound, referring physicians requested FISH plus cytogenetics at a significantly higher rate than they requested cytogenetics alone. The current prenatal FISH protocol is not designed to detect all chromosome abnormalities and should only be utilized as an adjunctive test to cytogenetics. This experience demonstrates that FISH can provide a rapid and accurate clinical method for prenatal identification of chromosome aneuploidies.

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