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Early pregnancy scans

Early Pregnancy Scan (6-11 weeks)

This scan is performed between 6-11 weeks to establish the presence of a single or multiple intrauterine pregnancy and to confirm the pregnancy is in the womb and not an ectopic pregnancy. We look at the heartbeat (s) and measure the embryo (s) to determine the gestational age. This early measurement is for dating. Anatomical details are extremely limited at this stage and The scan maybe done either abdominal or transvaginal.

Late dating scan/Wellness scan (12-21 weeks)

  • To identify fetal heart rate and viability
  • To determine the number of fetuses
  • To confirm accurate gestational dating and establish estimated due date
  • To identify location of placenta

This scan is done abdominally and a full bladder is required. Scan images may be limited by a high BMI or an incompletely full bladder.

Anomaly Scan (22-24 weeks)

Scan images may be limited by a high BMI or an incompletely full bladder.

About half of the major abnormalities which cause serious difficulties will be seen on a scan and half MAY NOT be seen. This means that even if your scan is normal there is a small chance that your baby could still have a problem.

Below is a list of different types of congenital abnormalities and how likely scanning is to identify each problem.


What the problem is

Change of being seen

Spina bifida

Open spinal cord



Absence of the top of the head



* Excess fluid within the brain


Major congenital heart problems


Diaphragmatic hernia

Small hernias may not be seen on ultrasound.

A defect in the muscle which separates the chest and the abdomen



Defects of the abdominal wall


Major kidney problems

Missing or abnormal kidneys


Major limb abnormalities

Missing bones or very short limbs


Cerebral palsy


Never Seen

Cleft Lip

Can be identified if clear 3D images

Down Syndrome

May be associated with heart and bowel problems

Will only be identified if soft marker/heart & bowel problems are visualised.

* Many cases develop late in pregnancy after the 20-week scan

The scan can sometimes tell what sex the baby appears to be, but not always, and we would usually not do extra scans just to identify the sex of the baby. If the scan does predict the sex of the baby this is right about 95% of the time. Dr McCaffrey or her Locum Consultant will only tell you the sex of the baby if you and all the people in the scan room with you, want to know the information.

If the scan finds a problem you will be told at the time of the scan that there is a problem and what follow up will be necessary. Approximately 15% of scans will need to be repeated for one reason or another.

Follow up Scans

Follow up scans are carried out if clinically appropriate.

Foetal Wellbeing/Growth scan 32 weeks

This well-being scan is performed to determine the health, position and growth of the fetus by measuring the size of the foetal head, abdomen, thigh bone and calculation of an estimated foetal weight. We will also examine fetal movements, placental position, and amount of amniotic fluid and assess blood flow from the placenta by colour flow Doppler. We check to see if the position of the baby may be feet-first or buttocks first (breech), side-on (transverse) or at an angle (oblique) presentation. The placental site will also be assessed to rule out Placenta Previa (Low lying Placenta). It is now known that 33 weeks is an excellent time to assess fetal growth. There are now newer measurements emerging to assess risking shoulder dystocia/risk of Cystic Fibrosis due to large baby.

A full bladder is required for this scan.

Scan images may be limited by a high BMI or an incompletely full bladder.

Type of Scan


Early Pregnancy Scan


Late Dating Scan/ Wellness Scan


Anomaly Scan


Foetal Wellbeing/Growth Scan


Follow up Scan


Covered by all major insurance companies