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BACKGROUND: The use of obstetric ultrasound in the diagnosis of gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD) in high-income settings is well established, leading to prompt management and high survival rates. Evidence from low-income settings suggests ultrasound is essential in identifying complicated pregnancies, but with limited studies reviewing specific conditions including GTD. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study is to review the role of ultrasound in diagnosis and management of GTD in a marginalized population on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Antenatal ultrasound became available in this rural setting in 2001 and care for women with GTD has been provided by Thailand public hospitals for 20 years. DESIGN: Retrospective record review. RESULTS: The incidence of GTD was 103 of 57,004 pregnancies in Karen and Burmese women on the Thailand-Myanmar border from 1993-2013. This equates to a rate of 1.8 (95% CI 1.5-2.2) per 1000 or 1 in 553 pregnancies. Of the 102 women with known outcomes, one (1.0%) died of haemorrhage at home. The median number of days between first antenatal clinic attendance and referral to hospital was reduced from 20 (IQR 5-35; range 1-155) to 2 (IQR 2-6; range 1-179) days (p = 0.002) after the introduction of ultrasound. The proportion of severe outcomes (death and total abdominal hysterectomy) was 25% (3/12) before ultrasound compared to 8.9% (8/90) with ultrasound (p = 0.119). A recurrence rate of 2.5% (2/80) was observed in the assessable population. The presence of malaria parasites in maternal blood was not associated with GTD. CONCLUSIONS: The rate of GTD in pregnancy in this population is comparable to rates previously reported within South-East Asia. Referral time for uterine evacuation was significantly shorter for those women who had an ultrasound. Ultrasound is an effective method to improve diagnosis of GTD in low-income settings and an effort to increase availability in marginalized populations is required.

Original publication




Journal article


Glob Health Action

Publication Date





Gestational trophoblastic disease, hydatidiform, molar pregnancy, refugee, ultrasound, Adolescent, Adult, Female, Gestational Trophoblastic Disease, Humans, Middle Aged, Myanmar, Neoplasm Recurrence, Local, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Complications, Neoplastic, Prenatal Care, Retrospective Studies, Rural Population, Thailand, Ultrasonography, Young Adult