Same-day confirmation of intrauterine pregnancy failure in women with first- and early second-trimester bleeding

A high concentration of alpha-fetoprotein in vaginal blood may confirm the passage of fetal tissue.

Volume 109, Issue 6, Pages 1060–1064


Amir Mor, M.D., Ph.D., Reshef Tal, M.D., Ph.D., Shoshana Haberman, M.D., Ph.D., Bharati Kalgi, M.D., Susan Hosseini Nasab, M.D., Howard Minkoff, M.D.



To determine if alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) concentration in vaginal blood, in the setting of dissolved fetal tissue, is significantly higher than its concentration in the maternal serum.


A prospective cohort study.


Medical center.


Four groups of women were evaluated: 1) with missed/incomplete miscarriage with vaginal bleeding; 2) with threatened miscarriage; 3) with vaginal bleeding during cerclage placement; and 4) undergoing dilation and curettage (D&C).



Main Outcome Measure(s)

In each patient, AFP concentration in the vaginal blood or in the liquid component of the evacuated products of conception (POC; D&C group) was compared with the AFP concentration in the maternal serum.


The median (range) concentration ratios of AFP in vaginal blood (or POC) to AFP in maternal serum were 24.5 (5.1–8,620) and 957 (4.6–24,216) for the missed/incomplete (n = 30) and the D&C (n = 22) groups, respectively, whereas they were only 1.2 (0.4–13.4) and 1.01 (0.7–1.5) for the threatened miscarriage (n = 15) and cerclage (n = 9) groups, respectively. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis demonstrated 100% sensitivity and 86.7% specificity for the detection of the passage of fetal tissue (ratio 4.3, area under the ROC curve 0.96).


Higher concentrations of AFP in vaginal blood than in maternal serum may indicate the presence of dissolved fetal tissue (i.e., confirming a failed pregnancy).

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