Fetal Medicine

Fetal Anomaly Scan: what is it and why is it important

Fetal Anomaly Scan: what is it and why is it important

The second trimester is a time of substantial change for your unborn child. During this phase, the internal organs have developed and are still maturing. Therefore, it is essential for the fetus’s proper growth and development to visit the obstetrician frequently and follow that up with the recommended checkups and scans. Any abnormalities in the mother or infant are discovered at this point. The anomaly scan, or the TIFFA scan, is the second-trimester ultrasound examination most important among all prenatal exams. However, there is also a lot of significance for an early pregnancy scan for expectant mothers. Targeted Imaging for Fetal Anomalies is known as TIFFA. Your infant’s heartbeat and physical growth are examined during this scan. The meaning, significance, reports, and other specifics of an anomaly scan or TIFFA scan are covered in full in this article.

What is a Fetal anomaly scan?

The most critical scan performed in your second trimester is a TIFFA scan, which stands for Targeted Imaging for Fetal Anomalies. The term “20-week ultrasound scan” or “Level II ultrasound scan” are other names for this prenatal ultrasound examination. In most cases, an ultrasound is performed between 18 and 20 weeks, which is about four and a half months of pregnancy. However, it is still possible up to 22 weeks, about five months of pregnancy. The scan carefully looks at the fetus, your uterus, and your unborn child’s health, development, and growth. The anomaly scan finds any malformation, if any, even if it might not find every issue. The scan uses 2D, monochrome pictures to provide side views of the fetus. Images in 3D or in color are also employed.

With the growth of the baby, it gets quite important for the mother to learn about breastfeeding, how to take care of the baby and so much more. Hence, it is quite important that a mother-to-be learns everything about motherhood to ease their journey once the baby is out.

When is the anomaly scan carried out?

The optimal time to have this pregnancy ultrasound scan is between 18 and 20 weeks, about four and a half months after conception, even though it can be done at any time between 18 and 22 weeks, which is almost five months of pregnancy. Studies indicate that abortions can be carried out for up to 19 weeks, which is again about four and a half months) and six days after fertilization. Therefore, if a severe problem with the baby is discovered during an anomaly scan, the parents may decide to end the pregnancy. This lessens the likelihood of additional health issues for the mother. The development of your unborn child is another reason to have this scan done between 18 and 20 weeks of pregnancy. By the 19th week, the baby is about 6 inches long and has developed the anatomical structures of an adult; therefore, this is the time to identify any structural abnormalities. The internal organs begin to develop and grow. Millions of new motor neurons are created in the brain. Your unborn child may start to move inside your uterus. The optimal gestational age the doctor recommends for the anomaly or TIFFA scan is 19 to 20 weeks.

Importance of anomaly scan:

The anomaly scan, or the TIFFA scan, looks at the fetus from head to toe while tracking its general development, growth, and health. The sonographer evaluates structural issues from head to toe while checking the baby’s anatomy. The scan can determine the fetus’s size and weight. It also considers the location of the placenta, the umbilical cord, and the amniotic sac around the fetus. Any unnatural placement of the placenta during pregnancy can result in miscarriages, severe bleeding, and numerous other problems for both the mother and the unborn child.

It is estimated that 2-3% of pregnancies will result in difficulty with the baby’s growth and development. In the majority of these situations, ultrasound can detect observable abnormalities. However, it can be challenging for the baby to survive after birth if there are certain anomalies, such as defects in the skull and brain like anencephaly, the spinal cord such as a big meningomyelocele, or the absence of kidneys. In addition, early surgery is necessary to save the baby after birth for problems such as heart malformations, trachea-esophageal fistulas, or cleft palates.

This entire journey will also help you in learning about fetal medicine.

What exactly is checked in an anomaly scan?

The anomaly scan yields the same results as the ultrasound scan:

  • Baby’s size, development, maturity, and general health
  • Examines the abdominal wall, stomach, and all the fetal organs
  • Gestational age

It might also be a sign of congenital disabilities like:

  • Anencephaly
  • Cleft palate or Lipi
  • Spina bifida
  • Congenital cardiac conditions
  • Down Syndrome
  • Edward’s syndrome
  • Patau’s syndrome

How is the anomaly scan carried out?

The sonographer will require you to lie on a table and expose your abdomen when you come for your ultrasound. The ultrasound is typically conducted in a room with low lighting for the sonographer to achieve sharp images on the screen. The sonographer will cover your stomach in gel and set a probe there. Embodiments of the fetus are displayed on the screen when the probe is moved across your abdomen. It could be necessary for you to arrive with a full bladder so the sonographer can see the uterus well. The baby’s various organs and parts are subsequently examined one by one. Additionally, the sonographer will measure things like:

  • The baby’s head’s circumference, or head circumference (HC), is the measurement.
  • The circumference of the baby’s abdomen, or abdominal circumference (AC), is measured.
  • The thigh bone’s (femur) length is measured by the term “femur length,” or FL.

These aid in determining the baby’s growth and weight relative to the actual gestational age. In some circumstances, you could be asked to return after a couple of hours for another evaluation, especially if your baby is moving excessively or is not facing the ultrasound probe.

If the placenta appears low-lying, you might need to arrive with a full bladder so the sonographer can observe the uterus. You will be notified if your placenta is low-lying, which means it is positioned towards the cervix in the lower portion of the uterus. A second scan will be required in the third trimester to see if the placental position has changed. Specific characteristics in the newborn that raise the chance of Down syndrome can be found with the aid of ultrasound. Amniocentesis, a treatment that involves taking a few milliliters of amniotic fluid and sending it for genetic testing, may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis.

Final words:

The sonographer will explain the anomaly scan’s findings to you. After the ultrasound is finished, the anomaly scan report can be given to your doctor as a draught for review. The final ultrasound report is a typed document often made accessible after two to three hours or the following morning in a busy practice. It will list any important discoveries, the baby’s dimensions, the amount of amniotic fluid, and the placental location. Babies typically develop as anticipated. Our entire staff at Parvati hospitals is ready to support and assist you in making the most significant choice for you and your baby in the event of an unexpected development.

Frequently asked questions

What is the purpose of an anomaly scan?

An anomaly scan, sometimes referred to as a fetal anomaly scan or an anatomy ultrasound, is used to evaluate the fetus’ growth, development, and structural integrity throughout the second trimester of pregnancy, which usually lasts between 18 and 22 weeks.

What can be detected during an anomaly scan?

Several structures and possible abnormalities can be found during an anomaly scan. Placental position, tube deformity, structural anomalies, amniotic fluid levels, and other important factors can all be assessed.

How long does an anomaly scan typically take?

An anomaly scan can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours, depending on the intricacy of the test, the exact protocols followed by the healthcare provider, the position and cooperation of the fetus, and other considerations. An anomaly scan typically takes 20 to 40 minutes on average.

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