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Prenat Diagn. 1994 Jun;14(6):429-34.

Humerus and femur length in fetuses with Down syndrome.

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Department of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, University of Florence, Italy.


The aim of the study was to assess the value of sonographic measurement of fetal humerus and femur lengths in the second trimester as a screening tool for Down syndrome (DS). We reviewed retrospectively fetal sonographic biometry made at the time of amniocentesis between 15 and 19 weeks. The study group consisted of 27 DS fetuses. The control group comprised 500 normal fetuses chosen randomly. The expected humeral and femoral lengths for a given biparietal diameter were estimated by linear regression equations from the 500 normal fetuses. Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis was performed to evaluate both the detection rate and the false-positive rate of different cut-off values of measured to expected lengths ratios. The median femur and humeral lengths in DS fetuses were 0.91 times the expected values. No significant differences in the detection rate and false-positive rate were found between the humerus and femur lengths. When the humeral and femoral lengths were combined, we observed a remarkable reduction in the false-positive rate. A measured to expected length ratio of 0.91 detected 44.4 per cent of DS fetuses with 7.6 per cent false positives. These results suggest that the combination of femoral and humeral lengths may permit a more efficient use of ultrasound in screening for Down syndrome than the use of either alone.

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