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Cuadernos de Medicina Forense

versión On-line ISSN 1988-611Xversión impresa ISSN 1135-7606


ORTEGA PEREZ, A.. Does ignoring the single umbilical artery have so much importance?: Commentaries concerning a judicial sentence. Cuad. med. forense [online]. 2004, n.37, pp.31-35. ISSN 1988-611X.

The Spanish Supreme Court has condemned several obstetricians after having informed that the umbilical cord of a fetus had the three vessels, therefore deactivating the search for fetal diseases that the single umbilical artery (SUA) would have provoked. The sentence will be ethically correct only if SUA is really associated with such diseases. SUA is found in about 1 out of every 320 fetuses studied sonographically. In 68% of them, it will be an isolated finding, although it will increase the risks of premature delivery, low birthweight, and perinatal mortality. On the other hand, 17% of these fetuses will have, besides SUA, chromosomal alterations, and 31 % of them, structural malformations. In conclusion, SUA is an important marker of fetal disorders, and it has to be actively searched for during the ultrasonographic monitoring of the gestation.

Palabras clave : Chromosomal defects; diagnosis; ethics; gestation; legislation; obstetrics; risk marker; single umbilical artery; structural malformations; ultrasonography.

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