South African Society for Ultrasound
in Obstetrics and Gynaecology


Gestational Trophoblastic Neoplasms
  • 21 years G3 P1 M1
  • Normal vaginal delivery 10 months ago
  • Depo-Provera after delivery, now abnormal menses
  • Feels and looks healthy
  • Normal observations
  • Normal general and systemic examination
  • Gynecological examination: Bulky uterus
  • Referred for pelvic ultrasound as first line investigation

Differential diagnosis
  1. Invasive mole
  2. Choriocarcinoma
Other investigations
  • Beta-HCG
  • CXR
  • Brain CT
  • Liver functions and liver scan

The patient was managed by the clinicians as a young patient with choriocarcinoma


Gestational trophoblastic neoplasia represents a spectrum of diseases of which choriocarcinoma known to be one of the most malignant neoplasms affecting women. This epithelial tumor is composed of highly anaplastic strands of interlacing syncytiotrophoblastic and cytotrophoplasic elements.

Classification of gestational trophoblastic neoplasms:
  1. Histopathologic:
    • Molar pregnancy (hydatidiform mole)
    • Infiltrating molar pregnancy (chorioadenoma destruens)
    • Choriocarcinoma
  2. Clinical:
  3. Benign
  4. Malignant
  5. Morphological:
    • Complete mole
    • Incomplete mole
  • Common in Asia 1:85 pregnancies
  • Taiwan 1:120
  • South-Africa 1:2000
  • Increased risk in the age groups younger than 20 years and older than 40 years and a history of previous miscarriage or molar pregnancy
Ultrasound diagnosis

Gray scale imaging:

Making the diagnosis hydatidiform mole is important because after the mole has been evacuated from the uterus these women must have careful follow-up to exclude subsequent development of choriocarcinoma. The classic ultrasound appearance of a hydatiform mole will result in multiple small sonolucent areas which correspond to the "grape-like" vesicles that one sees on gross pathologic examination. When the products of conception undergo further hydropic change and proliferation with neo-vascularization a chorio-carcinoma develops. On ultrasound the tissue becomes more hyperechoic with less sonolucent areas. Refer to images.

Colour doppler:

Typically displays a colour-coded "hot" area representing pre-existing and newly formed vessels. All of these vessels show high-velocity, low-impedance blood flow signals. Colour Doppler flow imaging and pulsed Doppler can be used to evaluate chemotherapeutic results

Interesting fact!

Choriocarcinoma tissue does not contain any HLA anti-bodies( like sperms) which may explain way it is so highly malignant - the body does not recognize it as foreign.

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