Volume 109, Issue 2, Pages 201–212
Brynn Levy, M.Sc.(Med), Ph.D., Ronald Wapner, M.D.
Chromosomal microarray analysis (CMA) is performed either by array comparative genomic hybridization or by using a single nucleotide polymorphism array. In the prenatal setting, CMA is on par with traditional karyotyping for detection of major chromosomal imbalances such as aneuploidy and unbalanced rearrangements. CMA offers additional diagnostic benefits by revealing sub-microscopic imbalances or copy number variations that are too small to be seen on a standard G-banded chromosome preparation. These submicroscopic imbalances are also referred to as microdeletions and microduplications, particularly when they include specific genomic regions that are associated with clinical sequelae. Not all microdeletions/duplications are associated with adverse clinical phenotypes and in many cases, their presence is benign. In other cases, they are associated with a spectrum of clinical phenotypes that may range from benign to severe, while in some situations, the clinical significance may simply be unknown. These scenarios present a challenge for prenatal diagnosis, and genetic counseling prior to prenatal CMA greatly facilitates delivery of complex results. In prenatal diagnostic samples with a normal karyotype, chromosomal microarray will diagnose a clinically significant subchromosomal deletion or duplication in approximately 1% of structurally normal pregnancies and 6% with a structural anomaly. Pre-test counseling is also necessary to distinguish the primary differences between the benefits, limitations and diagnostic scope of CMA versus the powerful but limited screening nature of non-invasive prenatal diagnosis using cell-free fetal DNA.