What Is the Value of an Early Detailed Anatomic Scan?

If you’re like most parents, you can’t wait for your second trimester ultrasound. That’s when you finally get to see your precious baby, and in most cases, discover if you’re having a girl or boy.

But if we have any concerns -- if you have a high-risk pregnancy or a history of birth defects -- we may recommend an early detailed anatomic scan. With this earlier ultrasound, Dr. Violetta Lozovyy at High Risk Pregnancy Doctors can find any problems and develop a plan to treat your baby before your delivery.

Value of an early anatomic scan

A routine second trimester ultrasound, also called an anatomy scan, is the ultrasound parents always anticipate. This is the exciting moment when they may see their baby’s face for the first time.

This routine ultrasound, which is usually done around 20 weeks, is also the time when we can carefully evaluate your baby’s growth and development. 

We perform an early detailed anatomic scan around 17-18 weeks. At this stage, your baby isn’t as fully developed as at 20 weeks, but we can see the same structures and organs and identify possible health or growth concerns and birth defects.

Armed with this information, we can get a head start in dealing with any problems we encounter. After an early detailed scan, we determine if you need additional testing. Then we can plan a course of treatment while the baby is still in your uterus.

We may give you medications that cross the placenta to help the baby, as one example. With today’s advanced technology, we’re also able to perform minimally invasive fetal interventions, treating some birth defects before your baby is born.

Following fetal endoscopic surgery, your baby has a significantly better chance of survival after delivery. They’re also less likely to need surgery after they’re born. That’s the incomparable value of performing an early anatomic ultrasound.

What we learn during an early anatomic scan

During your early anatomic scan, we measure your baby’s size from the crown of their head to their rump, as well as around their abdomen and head. We estimate their weight and check the length of the thigh bone and spine.

We look for characteristics that signal chromosomal abnormalities as we thoroughly examine the baby’s:

Though we carefully examine the baby’s heart during your early anatomic ultrasound, we’re also specialists in first trimester fetal echocardiograms. If we have any concerns about your baby’s cardiovascular health, we have the experience and advanced echocardiogram technology to fully evaluate their heart as early as 11-13 weeks.

Early anatomic scans show more than the baby’s growth

We also evaluate critical aspects of the mother’s anatomy during early detailed anatomic scans. We evaluate the health of the umbilical cord and make sure the placenta isn’t covering the cervix.

The information obtained during your ultrasound allows us to determine the amount of amniotic fluid surrounding your baby. Low levels of amniotic fluid early in your pregnancy may indicate that your baby is growing too slowly.

Another structure that’s examined is your cervix. The length of the cervix tells us if you’re at risk of delivering a premature baby. If you have a short cervix, we may start medication to decrease the chances of premature delivery.

If you have a family history of birth defects, you have a high-risk pregnancy, or you would like to learn if you should consider an early anatomic ultrasound, call our High Risk Pregnancy Doctors office in Frisco, Texas, or request an appointment online.

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