Proposed guidelines for diagnosis of chromosome mosaicism in amniocytes based on data derived from chromosome mosaicism and pseudomosaicism studies

Lillian Y.F. Hsu, Sara Kaffe, Edmund C. Jenkins, Lita Alonso, Peter A. Benn, Karen David, Kurt Hirschhorn, Ernest Lieber, Alan Shanske, Lawrence R. Shapiro, Edward Schutta, Dorothy Warburton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Scopus citations


Currently, accepted protocol which has been developed at the Prenatal Diagnosis Laboratory of New York City (PDL) requires that when a chromosome abnormality is found in one or more cells in one flask, another 20–40 cells must be examined from one or two additional flasks. Chromosome mosaicism is diagnosed only when an identical abnormality is detected in cells from two or more flasks. In a recent PDL series of 12 000 cases studied according to this protocol, we diagnosed 801 cases (6.68 per cent) of single‐cell pseudomosaicism (SCPM), 126 cases (1.05 per cent) of multiple‐cell pseudomosaicism (MCPM), and 24 cases (0.2 per cent) of true mosaicism. Pseudomosaicism (PM) involving a structural abnormality was a frequent finding (2/3 of SCPM and 3/5 of MCPM), with an unbalanced structural abnormality in 55 per cent of SCPM and 24 per cent of MCPM. We also reviewed all true mosaic cases (a total of 50) diagnosed in the first 22000 PDL cases. Of these 50 cases, 23 were sex chromosome mosaics and 27 had autosomal mosaicism; 48 cases had numerical abnormalities and two had structural abnormalities. Twenty‐five cases of mosaicism were diagnosed in the first 20 cells from two flasks, i.e., without additional work‐up, whereas the other 25 cases required extensive work‐up to establish a diagnosis (12 needed additional cell counts from the initial two culture flasks; 13 required harvesting a third flask for cell analysis). Our data plus review of other available data led us to conclude that rigorous efforts to diagnose true mosaicism have little impact in many instances, and therefore are not cost‐effective. On the basis of all available data, a work‐up for potential mosaicism involving a sex chromosome aneuploidy or structural abnormality should have less priority than a work‐up for a common viable autosomal trisomy. We recommend revised guidelines for dealing with (1) a numerical versus a structural abnormality and (2) an autosomal versus a sex chromosome numerical aneuploidy. Emphasis should be placed on autosomes known to be associated with phenotypic abnormalities. These new guidelines, which cover both flask and in situ methods, should result in more effective prenatal cytogenetic diagnosis and reduced patient anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-573
Number of pages19
JournalPrenatal Diagnosis
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1992


  • Amniocytes
  • Guidelines
  • Mosaicism
  • Pseudomosaicism


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