Document Type


Publication Date



School of Medicine


Emergency Medicine


Background Early pregnancy complaints in emergency medicine are common. Emergency physicians (EP) increasingly employ ultrasound (US) in the evaluation of these complaints. As a result, it is likely that rare and important diagnoses will be encountered. We report a case of fetal anencephaly diagnosed by bedside emergency US in a patient presenting with first-trimester vaginal bleeding.

Case Report A 33-year-old patient at 10 weeks gestation presented with vaginal bleeding. After initial history and physical examination, a bedside US was performed. The EP noted the abnormal appearance of the fetal cranium and anencephaly was suspected. This finding was confirmed by a consultative high-resolution fetal US. Making the diagnosis at the point of care allowed earlier detection and more comprehensive maternal counseling about pregnancy options. This particular patient underwent elective abortion which was able to be performed at an earlier gestation, thus decreasing maternal risk. If this diagnosis would not have been recognized by the EP at the point of care, it may not have been diagnosed until the second trimester, and lower-risk maternal options would not have been available. [West J Emerg Med. 2016;17(4)460-463.]

Source Citation

Hall IV, J., Denne, N., Minardi, J., Williams, D., & Balcik, B. (2016). Check the Head: Emergency Ultrasound Diagnosis of Fetal Anencephaly. Western Journal of Emergency Medicine, 17(4), 460–463.


© 2016 Hall et al. This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) License. See: licenses/by/4.0/



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