Ultrasound scans are an extremely important tool utilized throughout pregnancy in order to monitor the healthy growth of your fetus. Certain ultrasound scans are recommended to take place at benchmarked gestational weeks in order to accurately monitor the growth of your baby.
6-10 weeks – Viability Scan:
The viability scan takes place at 6-10 weeks gestational age and is generally completed vaginally. Through the viabilty scan, we can determine the number of embryos that have implanted in the uterus and whether the pregnancy is progressing normally.
11-13 weeks – Nuchal Translucency Scan:
The Nuchal Translucency (NT) scan is usually performed transabdominally from 11 weeks – 13 weeks and six days. Less commonly, your physician can advise to complete the scan transvaginally. The NT scan is used to detect the continued healthy growth of your fetus and in order to:
- Date the pregnancy accurately: Oftentimes women can not exactly remember the date of their last menstrual period or have irregular menstrual cycles. During the NT scan, the size of the fetus is measured and the date of expected delivery is calculated.
- Diagnose multiple pregnancies: Through ultrasound, we will determine if you are carrying more than one fetus, if they are developing normally and if the babies share the same placenta. Twin and triplet pregnancies are advised to undergo more frequent monitor to avoid and complications during pregnancy.
- Diagnose fetal abnormalities: Only major physical abnormalities may be visible at this gestation age. It is advised to complete an fetal anomaly scan at 20-weeks in order to reconfirm the healthy growth of your fetus.
- Assess the risk of Down syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities: Each woman will be given an estimate of her individual risk for the pregnancy. This is calculated by taking into account the age of the mother, measurement of two hormones in the mother’s blood and the scan findings of nuchal translucency thickness, nasal bone, blood flow through the fetal heart and ductus venosus and fetal abnormalities. Parents will receive full counseling concerning the significance of these risks and the various options for further investigations including Non-Invasive Prenatal Diagnosis or other invasive methods.
20-24 weeks – Fetal Anomaly Scan:
During the Fetal Anomaly scan, each part of the fetal body is examined to detect any physical abnormalities as well as determine the position of the placenta, assess the amount of amniotic fluid and measure fetal growth. During this scan, special attention is paid to the brain, face, spine, heart, stomach, bowel, kidneys and limbs of the fetus.
During the NT scan (11-13 weeks), fetal anomaly scan (20-24 weeks) and the wellbeing scan (30-34 weeks) the fetal heart and connecting blood vessels are routinely scanned. A specialist examination of the fetal heart is recommended for women with a family history of congenital heart abnormalities or diabetes and those taken anti-epileptic drugs. If during routine scanning, it is suspected that their may be a fetal heart defect, there is an increased nuchal translucency or certain non-cardiac abnormalities are detected, it is also recommended a specialist examination of the fetal heart.
The cervical scan is completed transvaginally to measure the length of the cervix. This scan is recommended for women at high risk of preterm birth, including multiple pregnancies, for those with a previous preterm birth, abnormalities of the uterus or for women with a history of cervical surgery. The cervical scan is usually carried out at the time of fetal anomaly scan but may be performed earlier in women with previous preterm birth or complications during pregnancy.
The wellbeing scan is generally carried out at 32 weeks of pregnancy. Some obstetricians feel that all pregnant women should undergo a wellbeing scan while other reserve the wellbeing scan only for women with high risk pregnancy or with a history of complications during pregnancy. During the wellbeing scan, the growth and health of the fetus is determined by measuring the size of the fetal head, abdomen and thigh bone and estimating the fetal weight. Movements of the fetus are also examined, the amount of amniotic fluid is measured and placental position and appearance is confirmed. An assessment of the blood flow to the placenta and fetus is also made by color Doppler ultrasound.
For more information on the fetal medicine services provided by the physicians at Fakih IVF Fertility Center or to ask any questions you may have, book an appointment at Fakih IVF Fertility Center today.