A misdiagnosed miscarriage is rare, but there are some situations that make it more likely. In rare cases, a miscarriage is misdiagnosed. The possibility of a miscarriage weighs heavily on the minds of many women after the euphoria of discovering one is pregnant passes. The thought of a miscarriage is scary enough. The possibility of having a dilation and curettage, or D&C, because of a misdiagnosed miscarriage can be heart-wrenching. That's why it is important to ask for a second opinion if you are told you are having a miscarriage and there is any doubt in your mind.
How Misdiagnosed Miscarriage Occurs
There are a few situations that can result in misdiagnosed miscarriages. One is confusion with the date of conception. In the early stages of pregnancy, the embryo grows rapidly and being even a few days off can make a difference in the measurements and whether or not a first-trimester ultrasound detects a fetal heartbeat. Most doctors order a follow-up ultrasound to ensure that have not misdiagnosed a miscarriage. If your doctor doesn't order a follow-up, request one.
A second situation that can result in a misdiagnosed miscarriage is a slow rise and fall in human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) levels. Slow-rising hCG levels can be a warning sign that a miscarriage is possible. It is important to note, however, that viable pregnancies can have periods of slow-rising hCG levels, so don't lose hope if you're told your hCG levels are not rising quickly enough.
Falling hCG levels nearly always indicate a miscarriage. There are a few, rare scenarios where a misdiagnosed miscarriage can occur with falling hCG levels. Heterotopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that involves two conceptions: one viable pregnancy in the uterus and one nonviable ectopic pregnancy. The hCG levels will drop when the ectopic pregnancy is lost, while the healthy fetus remains in the uterus. Vanishing twin syndrome is another rare scenario where hCG levels can drop, leading to a misdiagnosed miscarriage. This occurs when one baby is miscarried while the twin remains healthy.
There are a few other conditions that can lead to a misdiagnosed miscarriage. Both a tilted uterus and a bicornuate, or somewhat divided, uterus can hide the fetus from detection or make it more difficult to examine the fetus on an ultrasound.
What to Do
If you are diagnosed with a miscarriage, it is important to not lose hope right away. A misdiagnosis is possible. Make sure you get a second opinion and a second ultrasound examination, then take some time before you agree to go through a D & C.
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