, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 645-654
Date: 27 Feb 2013

The use of mass spectrometry in obstetric and gynecology

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Abstract

The present review shows the utility of using mass spectrometry (MS) in obstetrics and gynecology. In this review different gas chromatography / mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography / mass spectrometry methods developed before to be used in obstetrics and gynecology are described. These methods are very useful to determine different hormones in pregnancy, fatty acids esters (related to the use of ethanol) in human meconium and toxic compounds in umbilical cord (as ethanol, steroids, morphine, cocaine, methadone and other drugs).

It is also shown in this review the progress during last decades in the field of using mass spectrometry in obstetrics and gynecology (for screening in utero exposure of the child to alcohol, drugs and other toxic compounds).

In the field of using mass spectrometry in obstetrics and gynecology are still many problems to solve. For example, the detection of fatty acids esters in meconium has several limitations, which affects the results. One limitation is multiple births. Also in fetal distress, meconium may be passed before birth, and in this case, the collection is impossible. Moreover the meconium is formed starting from the fourth month of pregnancy, so the fetal exposure at any toxic compounds during the first three months cannot be detected at all. To solve all of these, the best would be to combine the results obtained from meconium, with other results obtained from pregnancy serum, placenta or umbilical cord.

The main reason for using MS in obstetrics and gynecology is that MS is a noninvasive and a complementary method. It offers the results at a very early point in time, even before the act of birth. Sometimes the use of mass spectrometry is the only alternative. This shows that these methods are of great interest for the future and need to be developed further.