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OBJECTIVE: To assess the value of prenatal ultrasound in predicting bowel obstruction requiring surgery in fetuses with prenatal diagnosis of gastroschisis. METHODS: The database of our center was searched for cases with an antenatal diagnosis of gastroschisis. The ultrasound images were reviewed blindly to assess the presence of intra- or extra-abdominal bowel dilatation. Details of surgical procedures were noted and the discharge letters were obtained. Pediatric follow-up was also obtained from pediatric surgeons, general practitioners or parents. RESULTS: In the 10-year period between November 1998 and September 2008 there were 62 cases with a prenatal diagnosis of gastroschisis. Postnatal outcome was not available for five cases, four pregnancies underwent termination and intrauterine fetal demise occurred in five cases. A final population of 48 liveborn infants was available for analysis. Intra-abdominal bowel dilatation was identified in 14 of these 48 fetuses (29.2%) and extra-abdominal bowel dilatation in 30 (62.5%) fetuses on prenatal ultrasound images. Eight fetuses (16.7%) had bowel obstruction. The relative risk of bowel obstruction with intra-abdominal bowel dilatation was 4.05 (95% CI, 1.12-14.70). On the other hand, the relative risk of bowel obstruction with extra-abdominal bowel dilatation was 1.0 (95% CI, 0.37-3.70). Four babies died, two of whom had intra- and one had extra-abdominal bowel dilatation. CONCLUSIONS: Intra-abdominal dilatation of the bowel on prenatal ultrasound examination appears to predict postnatal bowel obstruction and the need for surgical resection. Extra-abdominal bowel dilatation is observed frequently on prenatal ultrasound scans, but is not predictive of bowel obstruction.

Original publication




Journal article


Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol

Publication Date





702 - 707


Dilatation, Pathologic, Female, Fetal Diseases, Gastroschisis, Humans, Infant, Newborn, Intestinal Obstruction, Male, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Outcome, Ultrasonography, Prenatal, Young Adult