The roles of ultrasonography and amniocentesis in evaluation of elevated maternal serum α-fetoprotein

Karen K Lindfors, David P. Gorczyca, Frederick W. Hanson, Frances R. Tennant, John P McGahan, Ann G. Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


A total of 681 pregnant women were referred for evaluation of elevated maternal serum α-fetoprotein levels. Ultrasonographic examination yielded an explanation for the elevation of maternal serum α-fetoprotein in 42% of patients. Diagnoses made by ultrasonography included incorrect fetal dating, multiple gestation, fetal death, open neural tube defect, abdominal wall defect, placental abnormalities, cystic hygroma, renal anomalies, and oligohydramnios. Optimal prenatal diagnosis of fetal anomalies also requires the use of amniocentesis in many patients. Amniocentesis may be obviated if fetal dating is incorrect, if an unsuspected multiple gestation is discovered, or if there is a clear anomaly and the parents do not desire genetic counseling based on karyotype information. If the fetus appears normal, the ultrasonographic results are equivocal, or the parents desire more detailed genetic counseling when an anomaly is found by ultrasonography, then amniocentesis should be performed. Thirteen abnormalities were diagnosed by amniocentesis alone in this group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1571-1576
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number6 PART 1
StatePublished - 1991


  • amniocentesis
  • fetal ultrasonography
  • Maternal serum α-fetoprotein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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