Viewing Ultrasound Scan Images Prior to Termination of Pregnancy: Choice for Women or Conflict for Ultrasonographers?
Killick, S R
Journal of obstetrics and gynaecology : the journal of the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 2010; 30(5): 484-8
Establishing pregnancy location is key to minimising the risks of abortion, and establishing gestational age optimises women's choice of procedure and timing. There is limited information in UK practice about the views of women having an ultrasound before an abortion with regards to whether they would wish to see the scan image of their fetus. We therefore surveyed the views of women having pre-abortion ultrasound scans and the views of ultrasonographers, using self-completed anonymous questionnaires. Responses were available for analysis from 191 women aged 16 to over 45. A total of 25 (13%) women had seen their scan. Of those who did not see their scan, 40 (24%) said they would have liked to see it, to aid their decision-making, as a right, or out of curiosity. Nine out of 17 ultrasonographers completed their questionnaires. Four ultrasonographers thought that women having scans before an abortion should see their scan images if they wished and another four thought they should not because of possible psychological effects. Their response also highlighted possible effects of such scans on those performing them. Given the choice, a larger number of women would like to see their scan images than actually ask. Women request to see their pre-abortion ultrasound images for their own individual reasons, which should be respected. Ultrasonographers may have conflict or ethical dilemmas when performing pre-abortion scans and they should be supported in identifying women for whom looking at their scan images would be of benefit.
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