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J Lab Physicians. 2018 Jul-Sep;10(3):338-345. doi: 10.4103/JLP.JLP_134_17.

Second-trimester fetal autopsy: A morphological study with prenatal USG correlations and clinical implications.

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Department of Pathology, PSG Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India.



The objective of this study is to analyze the second-trimester fetal autopsies and to reemphasize the role of autopsy by comparing autopsy findings with prenatal ultrasound observations.


Retrospective analysis of second-trimester fetal autopsies over a period of 7.5 years (January 2009-June 2016). A standard protocol of autopsy procedure was followed, which included external examination with photography, X-ray, internal examination, and histopathological examination. In fetuses with congenital malformations (CMs), the findings of prenatal ultrasonogram and autopsy examination were compared.


We analyzed a total of 66 fetuses, which includes 17 intrauterine fetal death, 49 terminations for CM, and increased risk for chromosomal abnormality. In fetuses with CM, multiple anomalies were more common than a single anomaly. The most common anomalies were seen involving central nervous system (neural tube defect) followed by the genitourinary system. Autopsy confirmed prenatal ultrasound findings in all cases except three. Complete agreement between USG findings and autopsy were seen in 17 cases (39.7%). Additional findings on autopsy were noted in 25 cases (62.2%). Among these, 15 cases had a significant change of recurrence risk due to altered initial ultrasound diagnosis.


Fetal autopsy plays an important role in arriving at the final diagnosis and detecting the cause of death. This information is very essential for the clinicians, in genetic counseling of the parents, and management of future pregnancies.


Congenital malformations; fetal autopsy; multiple anomalies; prenatal ultrasound

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