Your 12-13 week nuchal translucency scan: what to expect
What is the reason for the nuchal translucency scan?
The main reasons for the nuchal translucency scan are:
- Date your pregnancy correctly, this is the best time to establish a due date
- Exclude a multiple pregnancy!
- Calculate your risk factor for a chromosome problem, if you have your blood test a week before you scan then we can give your results on the same day(see information sheet on the blood test)
- Make sure your baby is developing normal
- Assess the risk to have placenta problems later in the pregnancy
- Determine your risk of preterm birth
This scan is offered to all women, some choose not to have the information and some just limited information (for example the position of the placenta). It is entirely up to you, discuss your needs with the sonographer
It is a usually a very pleasant part of pregnancy care for most couples, but occasionally we find something that can turn your world upside down. Remember that we are here to help all the way.
This scan cannot rule out all possible morphological abnormalities and/or genetic diseases despite the care and time taken for the examination. A scan is a safe test for you and your baby.
Any special instructions?
It is useful to have a moderately full bladder, which can allow a better picture of the baby as your bladder pushes the uterus up above the pelvic bone. An hour before your appointment, please empty your bladder and drink 2 standard glasses of water. Please do not go to the toilet again until after your scan. We do not need you to have an uncomfortably full bladder. Please talk to our reception staff if you are uncomfortable while waiting for your scan.
What will happen during the examination?
- You will be introduced to the sonographer(the person doing the scan) when you are called into the room
- It helps the sonographer to do a high quality study when there are limited distractions, consider leaving a toddler in the waiting room or with a relative until the end of the study
- You will be asked to lie on you back with only your tummy uncovered
- The lights will usually be dimmed
- Gel will then be spread on your tummy to enable contact with the probe
- The probe sends sound wave through your tummy. The sound wave bounce back to produce an image on the screen.
- The length of the study can vary, it usually 20-30 mins
Will I have to come back for another scan?
You may be offered a follow-up scan if we could not complete the study
Reasons for that include
- Baby in a difficult position to see clearly
- It’s too early in your pregnancy to identify all structures
- You are above average weight, it can sometimes make more difficult to obtain clear pictures
- The sonographer may ask for a second opinion because the exact nature of the problem is not clear. Sometimes the finding is considered a normal variant. You may be offered further tests based on our findings. You will be well supported in making these choices. Tests that might be offered to you are
- Invasive test like CVS/amniocentesis
- Follow the link to separate information on that
After your nuchal translucency scan
The scan shows that your baby appears to be developing normally
- This means that that all the standard images that were taken during the examination were normal. Most babies in this group will be born healthy with no physical problems. However, we also know there is a very small chance that certain problems cannot be detected by ultrasound
The study could not be completed and you are being offered a follow-up appointment
- Baby in difficult position
- Too early in your pregnancy
- Above average weight sometimes makes it more tricky to obtain clear pictures
We have identified a feature that we would like to review together with experts in the field.
- This will happen in a very timely fashion together with your managing doctor.