A miscarriage is the spontaneous termination of a pregnancy before 20 weeks gestation. Fetal death after week 20 is termed fetal death in utero (FDIU).
The term miscarriage is preferred by many over 'abortion' due to the use of the latter for therapeutic pregnancy termination, and the perceived stigma attributed to it by some.
Terminology varies greatly, as do the definitions of these terms. Commonly it is divided into:
- threatened miscarriage
- missed miscarriage
- inevitable miscarriage
- incomplete miscarriage
- complete miscarriage
Approximately 20-25% of all pregnancies experience a threatened miscarriage. Of these, 15-50% result in embryonic/fetal death. The rate of fetal loss is significantly lower in pregnancies which do not threaten to miscarry (only 2-7%). A miscarriage often occurs very early in the pregnancy, often without any alteration of the menstrual cycle and thus not perceived by the woman.
When a woman has had three or more miscarriages, the term habitual miscarriage is used.
Typically presents with vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain, and cramping.
- 1. Weissleder R, Wittenberg J, Harisinghani MM et-al. Primer of Diagnostic Imaging, Expert Consult- Online and Print. Mosby. (2011) ISBN:0323065384. Read it at Google Books - Find it at Amazon
- 2. Chudleigh P, Thilaganathan B. Obstetric ultrasound, how, why and when. Churchill Livingstone. (2004) ISBN:0443054711. Read it at Google Books - Find it at Amazon
Related Radiopaedia articles
First trimester of pregnancy
- ultrasound findings in early pregnancy
- confirming intrauterine gestation
- pregnancy of unknown location (PUL)
first trimester vaginal bleeding
- ectopic pregnancy
failed early pregnancy
- pregnancy of uncertain viability (PUV)
- anembryonic pregnancy
- yolk sac abnormalities
- gestational trophoblastic disease
- subchorionic hemorrhage
- demise of a twin
- implantation bleeding
- aneuploidy testing