Objective: The aim of this study was to collect the practices of cytogenetic and molecular genetic testing and genetic counseling activities in Italy in the year 2007 and provide guidance to the national and regional health systems to improve the organization of genetic services. Methods: A web-based survey was carried out to assess the total number and the type of analyses, the number and type of genetic counseling sessions, and the personnel attending these activities. The quality management system of the responding structures, in terms of certification and accreditation standards, was also investigated. The appropriateness of requests for genetic testing was evaluated for six disorders. Results: Data were collected from 278 responding centers, half of which were located in the northern regions of the country. Twenty-eight percent of the total were certified according to quality standards. A total of 217 molecular genetic and 171 cytogenetic laboratories, and 102 clinical genetic services were surveyed. About 560,000 genetic tests, including 311,069 cytogenetic and 248,691 molecular genetic analyses of 556 genes, were recorded. The fetal karyotype was examined on either trophoblast or amniocytes in about one of every 4.4 pregnancies. Only 11.5% of cytogenetic analyses and 13.5% of molecular tests were accompanied by genetic counseling. Concerning the appropriateness of a request for genetic testing, a low congruity was found between the clinical diagnosis and the laboratory results. Conclusion: This study highlights the need for reorganizing the genetic structure network in Italy, which at present is oversized, improving the quality management systems, expanding the availability of testing for rare disease genes, and improving access to pretest and posttest genetic counseling.
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