Use of ultrasound to distinguish between fetal hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism on discovery of a goiter




To determine whether sonography can be used to distinguish hyperthyroidism from hypothyroidism in pregnancies with fetal goiter.


This was a retrospective study of 39 cases of fetal goiter. The majority of the mothers had Graves' disease. Fetuses were scanned for the existence of a hypertrophic thyroid gland (goiter) beginning at 22 gestational weeks. Once a goiter was diagnosed, different echographic features were analyzed and the effect of chosen treatment on fetal thyroid development was monitored.


On color Doppler, 68.8% of hypothyroid goiters had a peripheral vascular pattern vs. 20% in cases of fetal hyperthyroidism (P = 0.0574). No hypothyroid goiter presented central vascularization whereas half the hyperthyroid goiters did (P = 0.0013). Fetal tachycardia was a good indicator of hyperthyroidism (57.1% v.s 6.3%; P = 0.0055). Delayed bone maturation was seen in hypothyroid goiters (46.9% vs. 0%; P = 0.0307), while advanced bone maturity was specific to hyperthyroid goiters (85.7% vs. 0%; P < 0.0001). Lastly, an increase in fetal movement was observed in cases of fetal hypothyroidism (43.8% vs. 0%; P = 0.0364).


Based on the color Doppler pattern of goiter, fetal heart rate, bone maturation and fetal mobility, we established an ultrasound score to predict fetal thyroid function in cases of fetal goiter. Copyright © 2009 ISUOG. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.