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1.  Rapid aneuploidy detection or karyotyping? Ethical reflection 
European Journal of Human Genetics  2011;19(10):1020-1025.
No consensus exists whether women at increased risk for trisomy 21, 13, and 18 should be offered stand-alone rapid aneuploidy detection (RAD) or karyotyping. In this paper, the ethical implications of a fast, relatively cheap and targeted RAD are examined. The advantages of RAD seem less robust than its proponents suggest. Fast test results only give a short-term psychological benefit. The cost advantage of RAD is apparent, but must be weighed against consequences like missed abnormalities, which are evaluated differently by professionals and pregnant women. Since pre-test information about RAD will have to include telling women about karyotyping as a possible alternative, the advantage of RAD in terms of the quantity of information that needs to be given may also be smaller than suggested. We conclude that none of the supposed arguments in favour of RAD is decisive in itself. Whether the case for RAD may still be regarded as convincing when taking these arguments together seems to depend on one's implicit view of what prenatal screening is about. Are we basically dealing with a test for trisomy 21 and a few conditions more? Or are there good grounds for also testing for the wider range of abnormalities that karyotyping can detect? As professionals and pregnant women may have different views about this, we suggest that the best approach is to offer women a choice between RAD and karyotyping. This approach is most in line with the general aim of prenatal screening: providing opportunities for autonomous reproductive choice.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2011.82
PMCID: PMC3190255  PMID: 21629296
rapid aneuploidy detection; karyotyping; ethics; prenatal diagnosis; reproductive choice
2.  Remifentanil patient controlled analgesia versus epidural analgesia in labour. A multicentre randomized controlled trial 
Background
Pain relief during labour is a topic of major interest in the Netherlands. Epidural analgesia is considered to be the most effective method of pain relief and recommended as first choice. However its uptake by pregnant women is limited compared to other western countries, partly as a result of non-availability due to logistic problems. Remifentanil, a synthetic opioid, is very suitable for patient controlled analgesia. Recent studies show that epidural analgesia is superior to remifentanil patient controlled analgesia in terms of pain intensity score; however there was no difference in satisfaction with pain relief between both treatments.
Methods/design
The proposed study is a multicentre randomized controlled study that assesses the cost-effectiveness of remifentanil patient controlled analgesia compared to epidural analgesia. We hypothesize that remifentanil patient controlled analgesia is as effective in improving pain appreciation scores as epidural analgesia, with lower costs and easier achievement of 24 hours availability of pain relief for women in labour and efficient pain relief for those with a contraindication for epidural analgesia.
Eligible women will be informed about the study and randomized before active labour has started. Women will be randomly allocated to a strategy based on epidural analgesia or on remifentanil patient controlled analgesia when they request pain relief during labour. Primary outcome is the pain appreciation score, i.e. satisfaction with pain relief.
Secondary outcome parameters are costs, patient satisfaction, pain scores (pain-intensity), mode of delivery and maternal and neonatal side effects.
The economic analysis will be performed from a short-term healthcare perspective. For both strategies the cost of perinatal care for mother and child, starting at the onset of labour and ending ten days after delivery, will be registered and compared.
Discussion
This study, considering cost effectiveness of remifentanil as first choice analgesia versus epidural analgesia, could strongly improve the care for 180.000 women, giving birth in the Netherlands yearly by giving them access to pain relief during labour, 24 hours a day.
Trial registration number
Dutch Trial Register NTR2551, http://www.trialregister.nl
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-63
PMCID: PMC3464937  PMID: 22748068
Analgesia; Labour; Remifentanil; Patient controlled analgesia; Epidural
3.  Multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification versus karyotyping in prenatal diagnosis: the M.A.K.E. study 
Background
In the past 30 years karyotyping was the gold standard for prenatal diagnosis of chromosomal aberrations in the fetus. Traditional karyotyping (TKT) has a high accuracy and reliability. However, it is labor intensive, the results take 14–21 days, the costs are high and unwanted findings such as abnormalities with unknown clinical relevance are not uncommon. These disadvantages challenged the practice of karyotyping. Multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) is a new molecular genetic technique in prenatal diagnosis. Previous preclinical evidence suggests equivalence of MLPA and traditional karyotyping (TKT) regarding test performance.
Methods/Design
The proposed study is a multicentre diagnostic substitute study among pregnant women, who choose to have amniocentesis for the indication advanced maternal age and/or increased risk following prenatal screening test. In all subjects, both MLPA and karyotyping will be performed on the amniotic fluid sample. The primary outcome is diagnostic accuracy. Secondary outcomes will be maternal quality of life, women's preferences and costs. Analysis will be intention to treat and per protocol analysis. Quality of life analysis will be carried out within the study population. The study aims to include 4500 women.
Discussion
The study results are expected to help decide whether MLPA can replace traditional karyotyping for 'low-risk' pregnancies in terms of diagnostic accuracy, quality of life and women's preferences. This will be the first clinical study to report on all relevant aspects of the potential replacement.
Trial Registration
The protocol is registered in the clinical trial register number ISRCTN47252164
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-18
PMCID: PMC2405770  PMID: 18492228
4.  A randomised clinical trial on cardiotocography plus fetal blood sampling versus cardiotocography plus ST-analysis of the fetal electrocardiogram (STAN®) for intrapartum monitoring 
Background
Cardiotocography (CTG) is worldwide the method for fetal surveillance during labour. However, CTG alone shows many false positive test results and without fetal blood sampling (FBS), it results in an increase in operative deliveries without improvement of fetal outcome. FBS requires additional expertise, is invasive and has often to be repeated during labour. Two clinical trials have shown that a combination of CTG and ST-analysis of the fetal electrocardiogram (ECG) reduces the rates of metabolic acidosis and instrumental delivery. However, in both trials FBS was still performed in the ST-analysis arm, and it is therefore still unknown if the observed results were indeed due to the ST-analysis or to the use of FBS in combination with ST-analysis.
Methods/Design
We aim to evaluate the effectiveness of non-invasive monitoring (CTG + ST-analysis) as compared to normal care (CTG + FBS), in a multicentre randomised clinical trial setting. Secondary aims are: 1) to judge whether ST-analysis of fetal electrocardiogram can significantly decrease frequency of performance of FBS or even replace it; 2) perform a cost analysis to establish the economic impact of the two treatment options.
Women in labour with a gestational age ≥ 36 weeks and an indication for CTG-monitoring can be included in the trial.
Eligible women will be randomised for fetal surveillance with CTG and, if necessary, FBS or CTG combined with ST-analysis of the fetal ECG.
The primary outcome of the study is the incidence of serious metabolic acidosis (defined as pH < 7.05 and Bdecf > 12 mmol/L in the umbilical cord artery). Secondary outcome measures are: instrumental delivery, neonatal outcome (Apgar score, admission to a neonatal ward), incidence of performance of FBS in both arms and cost-effectiveness of both monitoring strategies across hospitals.
The analysis will follow the intention to treat principle. The incidence of metabolic acidosis will be compared across both groups. Assuming a reduction of metabolic acidosis from 3.5% to 2.1 %, using a two-sided test with an alpha of 0.05 and a power of 0.80, in favour of CTG plus ST-analysis, about 5100 women have to be randomised. Furthermore, the cost-effectiveness of CTG and ST-analysis as compared to CTG and FBS will be studied.
Discussion
This study will provide data about the use of intrapartum ST-analysis with a strict protocol for performance of FBS to limit its incidence. We aim to clarify to what extent intrapartum ST-analysis can be used without the performance of FBS and in which cases FBS is still needed.
Trial Registration Number
ISRCTN95732366
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-13
PMCID: PMC1976105  PMID: 17655764

Results 1-4 (4)