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Ultrasound in pregnancy: should it be routine?


The obvious usefulness and ease of ultrasound examination and the lack of any apparent adverse effects in humans has led to its widespread use in pregnancy and many obstetricians use it routinely in all pregnancies. Fears that diagnostic ultrasound may have biological effects led to a major consensus development conference in the USA1 which approved its use for a long list of indications in pregnancy but was against its routine use. The DHSS does not accept routine scans as desirable.2 A report from the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists3 endorses routine ultrasound examination and points out that 70% of pregnant women in this country are now scanned. Nonetheless the RCOG wants a large prospective study to compare the benefits of routine and of selective scanning. The scientific analysis presented in its report has been criticised for its lack of scientific rigour and for leaving important questions unanswered.4

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