[CG] EPAS: Ultrasound protocol


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Applicable Unit Policy Documents 

  • EPAS Ultrasound Management Plan 
  • EPAS Ultrasound Report 

Patient privacy and dignity must be maintained at all times. 

On arrival in the department, the patient should be scanned trans-abdominally in the first instance, to exclude major pelvic pathology, or advanced pregnancy. 

A full bladder is essential. 

If more information is required then the patient should be prepared for a trans-vaginal scan. 

An explanation should be given and latex allergy excluded. 

(Should a T.V. scan be declined, this must be documented in the case notes). 

Measurements should be taken of the CRL if there is a fetal pole, or measurements of the mean sac diameter of the gestation sac +/- yolk sac if no fetus is found. 

The pouch of douglas and adnexal regions must be examined. 

Any tenderness should be recorded. 

The recommendations of the R.C.O.G. /R.C.R. as detailed in the departmental protocol for diagnosis of non- continuing pregnancy must be adhered to, with a follow up appointment arranged if indicated. (Attached as an appendix) 

If any doubt exists then a medical opinion must be sought. 

If an ectopic pregnancy is suspected, a medical opinion must be sought immediately and the patient told to await review. 

On completion of the scan, the findings should be communicated to the patient in a compassionate manner and she should be referred to the midwifery staff for continuity of care. 

Reports must be clearly written in black ink and dated and signed by the operator.

Appendix 1: Management of Early Pregnancy Loss

Addendum to GTG No 25 (Oct 2006): The Management of Early Pregnancy Loss  

Recent research suggests that given inter-observer variability in ultrasound measurements and the greater variation in early embryonic growth than has hitherto been assumed, a more conservative approach to the diagnosis of early pregnancy loss is warranted. 

The studies from Imperial College London, Queen Mary, University of London and the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium published in the November 2011 issue of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynaecology concluded that current definitions used to diagnose miscarriage could lead to an incorrect diagnosis and they call for clearer evidence-based guidance on detecting miscarriage through ultrasound scans. 

Having carefully considered these papers, we recommend adoption of the following interim guidance with immediate effect:

  1. Ultrasound diagnosis of miscarriage should only be considered with a mean gestation sac diameter >/= 25mm (with no obvious yolk sac), or with a fetal pole with crown rump length >/=7mm (the latter without evidence of fetal heart activity)
  2. Transvaginal ultrasound scan should be performed in all cases where there is uncertainty .
  3. Where there is any doubt about the diagnosis and/or a woman requests a repeat scan, this should be performed at an interval of at least one week from the initial scan before medical or surgical measures are undertaken for uterine evacuation. No growth in gestation sac size or CRL is strongly suggestive of a non-viable pregnancy in the absence of embryonic structures.

These revised values for 'mean gestation sac diameter' and 'crown rump length' do not imply that previously used values were wrong, nor that diagnosis of miscarriage in the past has been unsafe, This interim guidance suggests a more cautious approach is warranted, pending more definitive data becoming available. It extends the criteria included in the RCOG Green Top Guideline No 25, which recommended a conservative approach with mean gestation sac diameter <20mm or fetal CRL <6mm. 


  • Christoph Lees MRCOG on behalf of the RCOG Ultrasound Advisory Group  
  • Kim Hinshaw FRCOG Lead author, Green Top Guideline No. 25  Philip Owen FRCOG Chair, RCOG Guidelines Committee  
  • David Richmond FRCOG RCOG Vice President (Standards)

19th October 2011  

RCOG clinical guideline The Management of Early Pregnancy Loss

Last reviewed: 31 July 2016

Next review: 31 July 2021

Author(s): Donna Bean; Dr A M Mathers- Consultant Obstetrician PRM on behalf of GONEC

Version: 3

Approved By: Dr C Bain, Clinical Director