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From examining the baby for normal development, through to sexing the baby, estimating the baby's size and providing 3D and 4D images, modern ultrasound equipment and technical expertise enables women to avail themselves of a full pregnancy ultrasound service.

Early pregnancy scans

These scans are performed for several reasons. The principal reason is for reassurance that the pregnancy is progressing satisfactorily and that the baby's heartbeat is present. The age of the pregnancy is easily determined through ultrasound measurement and the presence of one, two or more babies is established.

The examination is usually carried out by scanning through the abdomen but if the pregnancy is very early, scanning via a probe inserted into the vagina may be appropriate (transvaginal ultrasound).This scan is of value to any woman who may have concerns about her pregnancy, who is unsure of how far along she is or simply wishes to see the pregnancy progressing.

Nuchal scan - The combined ultrasound and biochemistry scan (CUBS)

This assessment is for women who wish to have a screening test for the prediction of a baby with Down's Syndrome. Click here to find out more.

Detailed scan (also called 'fetal anomaly' or '20 week' scan)

The majority of babies develop normally in the womb but a small percentage are affected by either minor or major problems. Knowledge of such developmental problems can be invaluable in planning the appropriate care for the pregnancy. Equally, the absence of any abnormalities or problems on the scan can be a source of much re-assurance to the expectant parents.

Reassurance

This ultrasound examination serves to perform a full assessment of the baby's development in order to reassure the parents that the organs have formed normally. This includes an examination of the major organs such as the brain, face, spine, heart, stomach, kidneys, bladder, upper and lower limbs and genitalia (sexing) if requested.The examination is best conducted at between 20 and 24 weeks but can be performed at any stage of pregnancy beyond 18 weeks.

Recommendations

It is recommended by the HeaIth Technology Assessment, an evaluation carried out by the Health Department of the Scottish Executive published in 2004 (www.nhshealthquality.org) that all women be offered a detailed scan. Detailed scans are currently routinely available in some but not all Scottish maternity units.

Limitations

It is important to understand that it is not possible to diagnose all abnormalities using ultrasound. This is particularly the case for heart and brain abnormalities where only 60% of all abnormalities are detected using ultrasound. Factors which influence the quality of the image obtained are the age of the pregnancy (better at 22 weeks than 18), the position of the baby and the patient's bodyweight (image quality tends to be poorer if the woman is heavy) . If the views are not adequate, this will be explained by the consultant and arrangements made for a repeat examination.

In the unusual situation where an abnormality is found or suspected, the significance of this will be explained and a plan of management discussed.

Still and moving images from the detailed scan are recorded to CD/DVD.

In addition to performing a detailed scan it is also possible to use the new 3/4D technology to obtain further images of your baby. The best quality 3/4D images are obtained between 24 and 30 weeks gestation.

3D and 4D ultrasound scans

Using new ultrasound technology it is possible to obtain lifelike images of the unborn baby in 3 and 4 dimensions (4D is moving 3D). Such images are very popular with parents since they provide easily recognisable images of their baby’s face in particular which they can share with family and friends. Smiling, yawning and sucking is often seen depending on how awake or asleep the baby is.

The quality (how clear they are) of the 3/4D images is mostly determined by the baby’s position and how far along the pregnancy is. The best time to do a 3/4D scan is between 26 and 32weeks. It is difficult to influence the baby’s position but time is set aside to allow the baby to wake and move around if necessary. If it is not possible to obtain satisfactory images (which is very unusual) for whatever reason then we will make arrangements for a further scan or adjust the charge depending on your preference.

At  the Nuffield we offer 3/4D imaging as an additional component to either a detailed scan or a fetal growth and wellbeing scan. A report from the scan is produced as usual. It is also possible to book a sonographer performed 3/4D studio scan with or without identification of  baby’s gender.

The images are stored on to a CD or DVD so providing a lasting record.

Growth and wellbeing scan

When is this done?

This examination is normally performed later in pregnancy (> 26 weeks) when a woman wishes to have the baby's size estimated. This scan concentrates on performing measurements of the head, waist, and thigh bone. It is possible to estimate the baby's weight using these measurements.

Wellbeing

The baby's wellbeing is assessed by examining the amount of fluid around the baby and the function of he placenta ('afterbirth') using a technique called Doppler ultrasound. Doppler measures the pattern blood flow in the baby's umbilical cord. The new 3/4 D technology can also be achieved at the growth and well being scans demonstrating baby's facial features and often baby yawning, sucking, grimacing and sometimes smiling.

For other ultrasound scans not related to pregnancy click here.

Find your nearest hospital that provides this test

67 Lansdowne Road
Bournemouth
BH1 1RW

01202 291866

Shenfield Road
Brentwood
CM15 8EH

01277 695695

Warren Road
Brighton
BN2 6DX

01273 624488

3 Clifton Hill
Clifton
Bristol
BS8 1BN

0117 906 4870

Cardiff Bay Hospital
Dunleavey Drive
Cardiff
CF11 0SN

02920 836700

Hatherley Lane
Cheltenham
GL51 6SY

01242 246552

78 Broyle Road
Chichester
PO19 6WB

01243 530600

Wonford Road
Exeter
EX2 4UG

01392 262110

25 Beaconsfield Road
Glasgow
G12 0PJ

01413349441

Burrell Road
Haywards Heath
RH16 1UD

01444 456999

Venns Lane
Hereford
HR1 1DF

01432 355 131

Scraptoft Lane
Leicester
LE5 1HY

01162 769401

Kingswood Road
Tunbridge Wells
TN2 4UL

01892 531111

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