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Docs told to delay scans in cases of miscarriage


Young scientist using a microscope in a laboratory

Young scientist using a microscope in a laboratory

Young scientist using a microscope in a laboratory

Doctors should wait longer before diagnosing early miscarriage to avoid the risk of terminating healthy babies, experts have said.

Second scans should mostly only be carried out only if 14 days have passed since the first one, they said.

Miscarriage is common in the first three months of pregnancy. Pregnant women who experience pain or bleeding in the first trimester are usually referred to an early pregnancy clinic for a scan.

A second scan is often performed around seven days later to confirm whether a pregnancy is viable. Following this second scan, a decision may be taken to end the pregnancy by surgery or medication, or to let the miscarriage progress naturally.

In the new study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), experts said there was a risk healthy pregnancies could be ended because not enough time has passed between the scans.


Professor Tom Bourne, from Imperial College London, who led the study, said doctors could be confident their diagnosis was correct if scans were 14 days apart.

The current guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) of seven days between scans was associated with a "false positive" rate - where the diagnosis is wrong - approaching 2pc, the study found.

Prof Bourne said: "Women should be able to rely on a diagnosis of miscarriage. It's an area of medicine where the highest levels of caution are warranted."