Routine ultrasound examination is an established part of antenatal care if resources are available and access possible. In general, the main goal of a fetal ultrasound scan is to provide accurate information which will facilitate the delivery of optimized antenatal care with the best possible outcomes for mother and fetus. The presence of a new life healthily growing inside you is monitored via an early pregnancy scan also called the viability or dating scan.
Purpose of early pregnancy ultrasound scan?
Early pregnancy scans are done to confirm a pregnancy and is performed between 6-11 weeks of gestation. Individuals who perform obstetric scans routinely should have specialized training that is appropriate to the practice of diagnostic ultrasound for pregnant women. Before starting the examination, a healthcare provider should counsel the woman/couple regarding the potential benefits and limitations of the first‐trimester ultrasound scan.
Details of the Dating Scan:
• to check the baby is growing in the right place, by ruling out ectopic pregnancy.
• to confirm the presence of your baby’s heartbeat.
• an accurate way of predicting your due date and confirming the gestation.
• to check whether you are expecting more than one baby.
• in case of multiple pregnancies, to assess chorionicity and amnionicity.
• to check your baby’s growth and development.
• to check the pelvic organs.
• to check presence of any internal bleeding
Also gynecological pathologies may be detected during any first‐trimester scan. Abnormalities of uterine shape, such as uterine septa and bicornuate uteri, should be described. The adnexa should be surveyed for abnormalities and masses.
Is prenatal ultrasonography safe during the first trimester?
Fetal exposure times should be minimized, using the shortest scan times and lowest possible power output needed to obtain diagnostic information using the ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable) principle.
How are Early Pregnancy Scans done?
An early pregnancy scan can be done either transabdominally or transvaginally. Transabdominal early pregnancy scans are performed at 7-11 weeks of pregnancy and are done over the tummy. Commonly these are known as ultrasound scans and is carried out by one of the highly qualified professionals (sonographer) in the hospital.
During the process, the sonographer will ask you to drink a glass of water for a good view of your baby (as bladder helps the ultrasound echoes to reach your womb) and lie on the bed. Then some gel will be applied on your tummy and move a hand-held device (transducer) over the abdominal skin to pick up images of the baby. If the images are not clear, then the sonographer will ask you to go for a transvaginal scan.
During the transvaginal scan, the sonographer places a vaginal transducer comfortably inside your vagina (after lubricating this with plenty of gel). Once the transducer is inside, sound waves bounce off the internal organs and transmit pictures of your pelvis (inside of it) onto a monitor.
How should the scan be documented?
An examination report should be produced as an electronic and/or paper document. Such a document should be stored locally and, in accordance with local protocol, made available to the woman and referring healthcare provider.