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The Different types of Early Pregnancy Scans

With the latest advances in technology there’s no such thing as just one set scan anymore. There are now a plethora of scans available to pregnant women that can be done at the different stages of their pregnancy. With so many different options it can often be hard to determine which scan might actually be right for you.


One of the biggest questions we get asked from our patients is around the subject of which scan is best for them so we’ve decided to create this short blog to help educate you on what type of scans are available and which one might be right for you.


If you are looking for a simple option, a straightforward Early Pregnancy Scan can be done from 6-11 weeks. This scan confirms that the baby is in the right place, it checks to see if the baby is growing in accordance with dates, it calculates the baby’s heart rate and makes sure that all the surrounding structures appear normal. It can also let you know if you are expecting just one baby or if you are lucky enough to have a multiple pregnancy!


If you are wanting more information, especially risk assessment for syndromes, the following 3 options are what we offer in our clinic:


First Trimester Screening

Using a system recommended by the Fetal Medicine Foundation we carry out a blood test at around the 10 week mark and is followed by a scan at 12 weeks. Typically the earlier this scan is carried out in conjunction with a blood test the more accurate the results will be in picking up any abnormalities within the fetus. Although this type of scan and testing requires two separate visits we feel that it’s important to get the highest level of accurate results possible.


All women have the chance of having a baby with a physiological disability. First Trimester Screening is a risk assessment to determine the chances of your baby being born with Trisomy 21, 13 or 18 specifically. 


The components of First Trimester Screening include:


  • Maternal age
  • Presence or absence of major fetal abnormalities on ultrasound
  • Nuchal Translucency (fluid measurement behind the baby’s neck)
  • The level of two proteins in your blood (Free-ß-hCG and PAPP-A)


If you’re interested in learning more about our first trimester screening then head on over to our First Trimester Screening page here where you can learn more about what this entails.


Non Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT)

Non-invasive screenings are a form of early prenatal testing that analyses cell-free fetal DNA circulating in the mother’s blood. These types of tests look for Down Syndrome, Edwards Syndrome, Patau Syndrome as well as X and Y chromosome conditions too. This is typically carried out via a blood test in conjunction with a dating ultrasound.


NIPT has the ability to carry out extremely accurate testing and can identify 99% of fetuses with trisomy 21, 98% with trisomy 18, 80% of fetuses with trisomy 13, and 96% of fetuses with Turner Syndrome in singleton pregnancies.


The two types of NIPT that we offer in The Ultrasound Suite are Harmony and Panorama:



The Harmony scan and bloods can be performed from 10 weeks onwards and results are typically available within 5 working days. This test screens for Downs syndrome, Edwards syndrome, Patau syndrome, fetal sex (optional), Turner syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome, Triple X syndrome, XYY syndrome, and XXYY syndrome. It can also be performed on twins, IVF donor egg and IVF donor egg twins.



The Panorama scan and bloods can be done from 9 weeks onwards with results available within 10 working days. Panorama screens for Downs syndrome, Edwards syndrome, Patau syndrome, fetal sex (optional), Turner syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome, Triple X syndrome, XYY syndrome, XXYY syndrome, Triploidy, 22q11.2 deletion (DiGeorge), Prader-Willi, Cri-du-chat, and 1p36 deletion.


Hopefully, this blog has helped you understand the different screening options we offer women in early pregnancy. If you are looking for the highest accuracy, Panorama and Harmony screen for Down Syndrome with 99% accuracy. First Trimester Screening is not too far behind – when the bloods are carried out at 10 weeks and the scan at 12 weeks, it is 94% accurate in picking up Down Syndrome. And lastly, a basic Early Pregnancy Scan from 6-11 weeks can provide a great deal of reassurance but it is not sensitive in assessing fetal chromosomal abnormalities.


Ultrasound Scan

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