Baby scanning (pregnancy ultrasound)
Ultrasound has become a routine part of the care of pregnant women enabling obstetricians and pregnant women insight into the development and appearance of the unborn baby.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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