How early can a molar pregnancy be detected?

(July 8, 2010)

Molar Pregnancy Detection

A molar pregnancy is a rare complication arising due to chromosomal abnormalities at the time of fertilization of the egg. This condition is referred to as a disease called gestational trophoblastic disease as the condition has a tendency to persist even after removal of the deformed fetus and placenta. It also has the ability to develop into cancer if neglected or not detected in time. In a molar pregnancy, the placenta does not develop normally. Instead it forms a cluster of cells resembling a bunch of grapes. In the case of a complete molar pregnancy, no fetal structure is seen at all. If it is a partial molar pregnancy, an embryo may develop but cannot survive due to the deformed placenta.  
It is difficult to detect a molar pregnancy in the initial weeks of pregnancy. The most common symptoms of molar pregnancies are vaginal bleeding or spotting, increased vaginal secretions, high blood pressure, enlarged ovaries and a higher than normal level of hCG hormone in the mother’s bloodstream or urine. Nausea and vomiting are other indicators of molar pregnancies. The uterus may also seem larger than normal for the gestation period. However, these symptoms may prove misleading as they are not unique to molar pregnancies. Some symptoms may be experienced in the case of a miscarriage and others during the normal course of pregnancy, in a few cases, especially in the case of multiple fetuses.

A thorough pelvic examination or an ultrasound can help to confirm a molar pregnancy if the aforementioned symptoms are experienced. A sonogram is especially recommended if the baby’s heartbeat cannot be picked up by the 12th week of gestation. A calm uterus, void of movement, also indicates a complication. An ultrasound is the most accurate form of investigation as it reveals the actual picture of the uterus and its contents. If the ultrasound discloses abnormal placental tissue structure, similar to that of a cluster of grapes, a molar pregnancy is confirmed.   

Immediate surgical removal of the contents of the uterus is recommended so as to reduce the risk of further complications. A D&C or a D&E and generally performed to clear the uterus of all the deformed cells. Testing the contents for malignancy is recommended so that appropriate treatment may be administered. A regular follow-up for at least a year is also recommended to keep a check on recurrent tissue growth and to monitor the risk of cancer.

Submitted by P T on July 8, 2010 at 02:09

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