Transvaginal ultrasound in pregnancy: its acceptability to women and maternal psychological morbidity

Authors

  • S. Clement,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of General Practice and Primary Care, Guy's King's & St Thomas' School of Medicine, King's College London, London, UK
    • Department of Mental Health, St George's Hospital Medical School, Jenner Wing, Cranmer Terrace, London SW17 ORE, UK
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  • B. Candy,

    1. Department of General Practice and Primary Care, Guy's King's & St Thomas' School of Medicine, King's College London, London, UK
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  • V. Heath,

    1. Harris Birthright Research Centre for Fetal Medicine, Guy's King's & St Thomas' School of Medicine, King's College London, London, UK
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  • M. To,

    1. Harris Birthright Research Centre for Fetal Medicine, Guy's King's & St Thomas' School of Medicine, King's College London, London, UK
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  • K. H. Nicolaides

    1. Harris Birthright Research Centre for Fetal Medicine, Guy's King's & St Thomas' School of Medicine, King's College London, London, UK
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Abstract

Objectives

To assess the acceptability to women of antenatal transvaginal ultrasound scans; to compare the characteristics of women who accept the offer of a transvaginal scan with those who decline; to establish the prevalence of any psychological morbidity associated with the scan.

Methods

The study was a cross-sectional questionnaire survey. Women were recruited from two hospitals in South London. The sample consisted of 755 pregnant women who had a transvaginal scan at 23 weeks' gestation to assess the risk of preterm delivery and 167 women who were offered the transvaginal scan but declined. Women completed a questionnaire at home. Those who reported finding the scan a difficult experience were sent a questionnaire 4 weeks post-scan to assess its longer term impact. The main outcomes were acceptability (assessed by individual questionnaire items); anxiety before and during the scan (Spielberger State-trait Anxiety Inventory); pain during the scan (Present Pain Intensity Scale of the McGill Pain Questionnaire); psychological trauma (Impact of Event Scale).

Results

Over half (55.2%) of women accepted the offer of a transvaginal scan, according to hospital records. The majority of study participants who had transvaginal ultrasound reported finding the experience acceptable. Women experienced some anxiety before and during the scan and over a third experienced some (usually mild) pain during the procedure. Twelve women (1.6%) reported clinically significant levels of psychological trauma in relation to the scan.

Conclusions

Antenatal transvaginal ultrasound for assessing the risk of preterm delivery is an acceptable procedure for the majority of women. A significant minority decline the scan. The procedure has some psychological sequelae for some women. Copyright © 2003 ISUOG. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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