Misdiagnosed Miscarriage – Is It Possible?

Misdiagnosed Miscarriage - Is It Possible?

There have been instances of a misdiagnosed miscarriage due to a tilted uterus and that has left many women saddened and frustrated as a result. The blind faith in doctors in regards to pregnancy has left many people surprised to know that miscarriages can be misdiagnosed, too. Understanding why that happens can help you be prepared with those scenarios.

Reasons Behind Misdiagnosed Miscarriage

While it may seem surprising to know that a miscarriage can indeed by misdiagnosed, it is not without good reason. The initial phases of checking for the baby’s presence and well-being are pretty complex and a scope for misdiagnosis does exist due to some common reasons.

1. Unable to Spot the Baby During an Ultrasound

One of the major techniques to detect a baby in the uterus and identify its location and other characteristics is by making use of an ultrasound machine. The ultrasound machine also has a certain threshold and can detect the echoes it receives only when it interacts with objects that are of a specific size. In most cases, once a month or month and a half have passed, the gestational sac of the woman reaches a size of about 13-15 mm, which can be picked up by the machine. But, there have been cases where even a 20 mm sac has not been seen on ultrasound, and it might seem like you have miscarried your child.

2. The Disappearance of a Twin

At times, the initial tests and ultrasounds generally reveal the presence of twins present in the uterus. However, further tests might show only one foetus being present in the uterus and the other twin unable to be seen. It might indicate that one child has been miscarried while the other one grows. On the other hand, there are possibilities where the other foetus is under the upper one and isn’t visible because their heartbeats are not separately discernible at this stage.

3. Presence of a Heterotopic Pregnancy

The levels of hCG and pregnancy are pretty intertwined with each other. Therefore, if the doctors note that the levels of hCG have fallen considerably, it might be concluded that a miscarriage has occurred. However, a heterotopic pregnancy is a rare case where a woman has two pregnancies. One is within the uterus, while the other is ectopic. Once the ectopic pregnancy fails prematurely, the hCG levels drop but the uterine pregnancy stays healthy.

4. Erroneous hCG Levels

Similar to the aforementioned condition, the levels of hCG are pretty unstable during pregnancy and can rise or fall without explanation. Once pregnant, there should be a healthy increase in those levels as the foetus starts growing rapidly. However, if those levels don’t rise as expected, a doctor might deduce that the foetus is not alive. But that isn’t always the case and levels can be delayed before they rise to a normal value.

5. An Incorrect Date of Conception

After conception, the embryo begins to grow at a fast pace and implantation follows after it. During this process, a heartbeat cannot be detected but the embryo can be seen in a few cases. Many doctors do a repeat ultrasound after a week if the embryo is invisible earlier. This is highly dependent on the date of conception. If this is termed to be earlier than it actually is, it could lead doctors to believe that a miscarriage has taken place.

Woman getting ultrasound

What Are the Chances of Misdiagnosed Miscarriage?

A misdiagnosed miscarriage is not unlikely. If an ultrasound is conducted prior to completing 6 weeks or a vaginal ultrasound is not used as a follow-up, doctors might erroneously assume a miscarriage is taken place.

Misconceptions Regarding Misdiagnosed Miscarriage

For many parents, it is still hard to accept the fact that miscarriages can be misdiagnosed. This is primarily due to the numerous misconceptions that revolve around the factors that depend on identifying miscarriages.

1. An Absence of a Heartbeat that Was Detected Earlier

Noticing a heartbeat during the ultrasound scan is a great sign for most parents since it confidently establishes the presence of a foetus inside. However, if the same cannot be observed in a successive ultrasound, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have miscarried your child. The heartbeat can resurface in the following week as well.

2. A Miscarriage is too Important to be Misdiagnosed

Yes, miscarriage is quite an important and high-risk event for a woman. But doctors are humans, after all, and are highly dependent on medical equipment and the results that they provide. While most experienced doctors are aware of fluctuating factors, not all doctors are as good at it. These may state a miscarriage has taken place when it isn’t the case.

3. A Baby Without a Heartbeat is a Clear Sign of Miscarriage

While a foetal heartbeat is crucial, the position of the baby and the angle of the ultrasound device play a massive role in detecting it. An absent heartbeat can be spotted after a week when some adjustments have taken place within.

4. A Pregnancy Can Be Detected in Any Kind of a Uterus – H3

Most variations of a uterus are able to carry a pregnancy healthily to its complete term, but a tilted uterus can pose problems during ultrasounds in detecting the child effectively. These tend to improve as the pregnancy progresses and need smarter approaches.

5. Spotting a Baby at Good hCG Levels

A high hCG level could also be present due to an ectopic pregnancy when the uterine pregnancy is too small to be detected on an ultrasound.

6. Ultrasounds Always Detect Babies After 6-8 Weeks

Although chances are higher after a month or so, the growth and positioning of a baby could make it difficult to be spotted with an ultrasound even when it is healthy and fine.

7. If hCG Levels Don’t Rise Constantly, it Indicates a Miscarriage

hCG levels do rise during pregnancy but they also slow down or even drop at times. These don’t always mean a miscarriage has occurred.

How to Ensure Your Miscarriage Has Not Been Misdiagnosed?

If initial signs indicate a miscarriage, it is best to conduct repeat ultrasounds and tests after a week or so. Switching doctors could also be helpful in this case.

Coming across a misdiagnosed miscarriage due to heavy bleeding is rare since that occurs only if you have had intercourse during pregnancy. In all other cases, patience is a virtue to be held close to your heart and do not base your conclusions are single tests.

Also Read: Early Miscarriage: Causes & Symptoms