Early Pregnancy Scan



Deborah explains the Early Pregnancy Scan

More information about the early pregnancy scan:

Early pregnancy can be a very exciting time and often couples want to see their baby as soon as possible. This scan is available to anyone who wants some reassurance, but particularly for those who are unsure of their dates, have had some bleeding, pelvic pains, concerns, or have felt that their early pregnancy symptoms have disappeared when they should be present.

The purpose of the early pregnancy scan is:

  • To confirm intrauterine pregnancy (pregnancy within the womb)
  • To determine fetal viability (to make sure the baby is alive and growing)
  • To provide accurate gestational dating
  • To establish an estimated due date
  • To identify and measure fetal heart rate
  • To determine chorionicity and amnionicity if a multiple pregnancy (how many placentas and pregnancy sacs)
  • To examine for obvious uterine and ovarian pathology (please understand that visualisation of these structures is not always satisfactory in pregnancy)

When is the best time to go for an Early Pregnancy Scan?

The heart beat of the embryo can be seen from 6 weeks onwards, therefore, the Early Pregnancy Baby Scan can be performed from 6 weeks 0 days – 10 weeks 6 days from the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP).

If your menstrual cycle is longer than 28 days it is advisable to wait until you are at least till 8 weeks from your LMP to confirm the viability of the embryo as you may not be as far as your dates suggest.

How do I prepare for an Early Pregnancy Scan?

You are required to have an adequately full bladder for your early pregnancy scan. There is certainly no need to be uncomfortably full. We suggest that you go about your normal daily routine but just not empty the bladder half an hour before the scan.

There is a small chance that a transvaginal scan may need to be performed in order to get a clearer view. Some patients prefer this method of scanning as the resolution of the image is better, improving the accuracy of the measurements and the clarity of the pictures. Feel free to request this as there is no extra charge.

What to expect from the early pregnancy scan

During the ultrasound scan we assess the position and shape of the gestational sac. It is important to see the sac within the uterus as this excludes an ectopic pregnancy. We then look for the presence of the embryo or possibly multiple embryos. The heart rate is measured to determine viability.

A measurement is taken from the tip of the head to the little bottom, called the crown rump length (CRL). When performed correctly, this measurement is the most accurate way of dating a pregnancy. Many studies show that this form of dating is more accurate than the first day of the last period or measurements taken at detailed anomaly scan which is carried out at around 20 weeks. We also examine the uterus and ovaries for any pathology such as ovarian cysts or fibroids.