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Fertil Steril. 2010 Apr;93(6):1725-30. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2009.11.022. Epub 2010 Jan 13.

Transcervical retrieval of fetal cells in the practice of modern medicine: a review of the current literature and future direction.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI 48201-1405, USA.



To review published methods for transcervical collection of fetal cells and to assess the potential of this approach for application in prenatal diagnosis.


Retrospective analysis of efforts at prenatal diagnosis with trophoblast cells shed into the lower uterine pole that accumulate within the cervical mucus at the level of the internal os.


Minimally invasive techniques that include cervical mucus aspiration, cervical swabbing, and cervical or intrauterine lavage can be used to retrieve trophoblast cells during the first trimester for diagnostic purposes, including for prenatal genetic analysis. Fetal cells have been identified in these specimens with success rates that vary from 40% to 90%. The disparity in reported success rates can be a function of gestational age, collection method, operator variability, detection sensitivity, or pregnancy status. Molecular approaches have been devised to determine fetal sex and identify aneuploidies. Antibody markers have proven useful to select trophoblast cells for genetic analysis and to demonstrate that the abundance of recoverable fetal cells diminishes in abnormal gestations, such as in ectopic pregnancy or blighted ovum.


Transcervical collection of fetal cells offers several avenues for prenatal diagnosis that with further refinement could one day provide valuable information for the management of ongoing pregnancies.

Copyright 2010 American Society for Reproductive Medicine. All rights reserved.


Prenatal diagnosis; cervical mucus; ectopic pregnancy; fetal cells; genetic analysis; immunological markers; intrauterine lavage; transcervical cell collection; trophoblast

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