Article révisé par les pairs
Résumé : Transvaginal ultrasound examination of the secondary yolk sac was performed in 145 first trimester pregnancies with a normal outcome (Group A), in 10 normal pregnancies undergoing artificial termination (Group B) and in 25 pregnancies that subsequently failed (Group C) due to embryonic death (n = 17) or to spontaneous abortion of a live embryo (n = 8). The yolk sac structure of all cases from Group B and from 12 cases of Group C were examined morphologically, in order to investigate the changes secondary to normal yolk sac senescence or to pregnancy complication and to evaluate the relationship existing between these changes and ultrasound features. The yolk sac diameter measured in vivo increased significantly between 6 and 10 weeks of gestation and then decreased significantly. Morphologically, the yolk sac showed degenerative changes after 9 weeks of gestation suggesting that the disappearance of the yolk sac in normal pregnancies was a spontaneous event of embryonic development rather than the result of mechanical compression by the expanding amniotic cavity. Yolk sac measurements in complicated pregnancies were not predictive of pregnancy outcome. Irrespective of gestational age, important degenerative changes were found in pregnancies complicated by embryonic death or disappearance, suggesting that variation of yolk sac size and appearance in these cases is the consequence of abnormal embryonic development of death rather than being the primary cause of early pregnancy failure.