Ultrasound scanning in pregnancy
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Ultrasound scanning in pregnancy.
Ultrasound scanning is the most common imaging tool used for monitoring the growth and progress of your baby. From the several scans that will be performed over your pregnancy the medical team can identify your baby’s growth pattern and gender, as well as certain genetic abnormalities.
The very first time you will receive a scan will usually be at the 6-8 week mark. This scan will be a transvaginal scan (the probe will be inserted into the vagina to get a better view of the uterus). At this stage we can identify if there is a baby growing. We can also see the baby’s heartbeat. However, this is as much as we can safely tell at this early stage.
The next scan will be a dating scan and this usually happens around week 11. During this scan the baby’s size will be assessed to try and accurately predict the due date. The normal measure taken is the Crown-Rump length (CRL), which measures from the crown of your baby’s head to their bottom. This is very important as purely relying on calculated gestation from the first day of your last menstrual period may be incorrect and can lead to incorrect timing of more important scans such as the main anomaly scan an 12 week scan (more below).
Leading on from the above paragraph, at 11 weeks plus 2 days to 14 weeks plus one day you may have the first anomaly scan (a nuchal translucency scan or 12 weeks scan), which aims to identify whether your baby may have Down’s Syndrome. This test is believed to be 98% accurate but a positive result will still need confirmation with additional blood tests, which are beyond the scope of this particular article. The risk of Down’s Syndrome increase with maternal age;
-at age 35 it is 1/350
-at age 40 it is 1/100
-at age 45 it is 1/30
-at age 50 it is 1/4
At 20 weeks you will have your main anomaly scan and this will help to identify if the baby is developing normally. Sometimes due to technical difficulties it may not be possible to assess your baby at one sitting so a follow up scan at 23 weeks may be performed.
Finally, your gynae doctor will decide upon any further growth scan between 28 and 40 weeks. Further scans may be performed if you have had a previous baby who was underweight, if you are having twins, or if you have pre-existing medical conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
So as we can see, scanning in pregnancy is an important assessment tool during the journey of pregnancy.
In our Somerset clinic we do have an ultrasound machine available and we can perform an early pregnancy scan to see if you are pregnant and if the timing is right we can also see your baby’s heartbeat. Beyond that the scanning becomes very specialised and we would recommend being followed up by a specialist gynae/obs doctor.
If you are interested in an early pregnancy scan you can call our clinics to make an appointment.
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