Aloka's auto NT test improves ultrasound detection of foetal
26 August 2010
ALOKA Holding Europe AG has added an automated Nuchal
Translucency (NT) thickness measurement and pre-calibrated settings into
its ProSound ultrasound systems.
These features could reinforce the accuracy of first trimester
screening of foetuses for chromosomal diseases by reducing both the
human error and the subjectivity that can affect the reliability of
Over the last 20-years, research by various experts in foetal
abnormality detection has proved time and again that the ‘NT-Test’
is one of the most important markers of chromosomal abnormalities.
Yet it still relies upon a human judgement and, accordingly, there
is the potential of variance between readings.
Currently, experts take a series of measurements, using their
eyes and experience to decide upon where the measure has to be
taken. As a result, even two highly experienced doctors can produce
different results for the same patient.
With the introduction of Auto NT, results could be standardised
as image analysis algorithms will detect automatically the points to
be measured, improving the human element to assessing a patient’s
risk and ultimately increasing accuracy.
Semi-auto NT test on an Aloka Alpha 10 system
Although ALOKA’s Automated NT algorithm is currently under test
and still need to be formally peer-reviewed before it becomes an
accepted practice, current results look extremely promising and
indicate the potential benefits of this approach.
Dr Althuser’s study, which is currently being finalised, shows
that junior doctors demonstrated a greater degree of variance when
undertaking manual measurements, compared to their senior
colleagues. However, when using automated or semi automated NT
measurements, there is far less interpretative difference between
Dr Marc Althuser from the Fetal Medicine Department, the
University Hospital of Grenoble, France, believes the future for
Auto NT testing is bright: “I am in the process of completing a
multicenter clinical trial into the benefits of using a
semi-automated testing protocol, and the results look very positive.
However, as this still involves manual measurement, I can see that
fully automating the detection and measurement process is the
logical next step. I am sure that this innovation from ALOKA will be
enthusiastically received by everyone working in foetal chromosome
In another response to the recommendations from the world’s
foremost clinicians, ALOKA is now ready to supply its Prosound
systems ‘pre-calibrated’ for many common examinations, including
first trimester NT screening. As these presets include patient’s
age, weight, and stage in pregnancy, this is another development
that will improve the accuracy of foetal testing, as well as saving
considerable operator time.