Aloka's auto NT test improves ultrasound detection of foetal chromosome disease

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 these measures.

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 on an Aloka Alpha 10 ultrasound system
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 doctors.

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 abnormality detection.”

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.


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