• 3D ultrasound;
  • first-trimester screening;
  • maxilla;
  • nasal bone;
  • trisomy 21



To investigate the mid-facial hypoplasia of fetuses with trisomy 21 at 11 + 0 to 13 + 6 weeks of gestation, by three-dimensional (3D) evaluation of the maxilla and the nasal bones.


A 3D volume of the fetal head was obtained before fetal karyotyping at 11 + 0 to 13 + 6 (median 12) weeks of gestation in 80 fetuses that were subsequently found to have trisomy 21 and in 862 fetuses subsequently found to be chromosomally normal. The multiplanar mode was used to obtain a sequence of transverse views of the fetal face and to demonstrate the maxilla, the adjacent rami of the mandible and the nasal bones. The maxillary depth, defined as the distance between the alveolus of the maxilla in the midline anteriorly and the midpoint of the line joining the rami posteriorly, was measured. Ossification of the nasal bones was considered to be normal if both bones were more echogenic than the overlying skin.


In the chromosomally normal group the maxillary depth increased linearly with crown–rump length (CRL) from 3.1 mm at a CRL of 45 mm to 4.8 mm at a CRL of 84 mm, and in the trisomy 21 fetuses the depth was significantly smaller than normal (mean difference = − 0.3 mm, P < 0.001). There was no significant association between the delta maxillary depth and delta nuchal translucency thickness in either the trisomy 21 or the chromosomally normal fetuses. Impaired ossification of the nasal bones was observed in 3.1% of the chromosomally normal fetuses and in 60.0% of those with trisomy 21. The mean maxillary depth was significantly smaller in fetuses demonstrating impaired ossification than in those with normal ossification of the nasal bones (mean difference = −0.2 mm; 95% CI, −0.3 to −0.1, P = 0.001).


In a high proportion of fetuses with trisomy 21 there is sonographic evidence of mid-facial hypoplasia at 11 + 0 to 13 + 6 weeks of gestation. Copyright © 2006 ISUOG. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.