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Standardisation of crown–rump length measurement

Correct estimation of gestational age is essential for any study of ultrasound biometry and for everyday clinical practice. However, inconsistency in pregnancy dating may occur through differences in measurement methods or errors during measurement. In the INTERGROWTH-21st Project, pregnancies are dated by the last menstrual period, provided that it is certain and associated with a regular menstrual cycle, and the gestational age by dates concurs with a first-trimester ultrasound crown–rump length (CRL) estimation. Hence, there was a need to standardise CRL measurement methodology across the study sites in this international, multicentre project to avoid systematic differences in dating. To achieve uniformity we undertook the following steps: the ultrasound technique was standardised by disseminating an illustrated, operating manual describing CRL plane landmarks and calliper application, and posters describing the correct acquisition technique were disseminated for quick reference. To ensure that all ultrasonographers understood the methodology, they forwarded a log-book to the INTERGROWTH-21st Ultrasound Coordinating Unit, containing the answers to a written test on the manual material and five images of a correctly acquired CRL. Interpretation of CRL was also standardised by ensuring that the same CRL regression formula was used across all study sites. These methods should minimise potential systematic errors in dating associated with pooling data from different health institutions, and represent a model for standardising CRL measurement in future studies.

BJOG: Ioannou, C, Sarris, I, Hoch, L, Salomon, LJ, Papageorghiou, AT, for the International Fetal and Newborn Growth Consortium for the 21st Century (INTERGROWTH-21st). Standardisation of crown–rump length measurement. BJOG 2013;120 (Suppl. 2): 38–41.