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Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2007 Feb;29(2):192-4.

Placental shelf - a common, typically transient and benign finding on early second-trimester sonography.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem, affiliated to Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of Negev, Be'er Sheva, Israel.



Placental shelves are believed to represent circumvallate placentae. It is thought that circumvallate placenta may be associated with adverse perinatal outcome when present at delivery. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence, persistence and significance of placental shelves detected in the early second trimester.


In 152 consecutive anomaly scans performed between 13 and 16 weeks of gestation, special attention was directed to placental structure and the presence of a placental shelf. When present, a mid-gestation scan was performed to verify if the finding persisted. If so, a third-trimester scan was performed. Delivery charts were reviewed for all cases initially diagnosed with a placental shelf, recording any placenta-related complications.


In 17 of 152 (11.2%) early second-trimester scans a placental shelf was detected. In three of these 17 cases the shelf persisted to the 20-22-week scan. In the two cases that presented for the third-trimester scan the shelf was no longer present. In all 17 cases the perinatal outcome was good.


In our study group early second-trimester placental shelves rarely persisted to mid-gestation and never to the third trimester. There were no placenta-related perinatal problems. Early second-trimester placental shelf appears to be a common, benign and transient sonographic finding.

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