Everything You Need to Know About Morphology Scans

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Learn about morphology scans and how they can benefit you during pregnancy.

During the second trimester of your pregnancy—that is, at 18 to 20 weeks of pregnancy—your doctor might offer to do an ultrasound scan called a morphology scan. You might be wondering what this means, and whether you need it. So, here’s everything you need to know about morphology scans and how they can help you.

What is a morphology scan?

A morphology scan is a detailed ultrasound scan. It observes the position of the placenta, the umbilical cord, and the amniotic fluid around your baby, as well as your uterus and your cervix. This procedure is also called an anomaly scan or an ’18 to 20 week scan’, as it’s done during the second trimester and is primarily used to detect any anomalies in the pregnancy.

What is its function?

A morphology scan serves many purposes. It lets your sonographer observe your baby and make measurements, which can help in confirming the expected date of birth.

It also helps your doctor check to see if there are any abnormalities in the baby’s development. It helps in observing your baby’s heart, spine, stomach, kidneys, and limbs to search for abnormalities.

A morphology scan can also help in identifying the sex of the baby reasonably accurately, if prefer to find out about it.

It also helps in identifying any problems in the mother’s body, such as a low-lying placenta (known as placenta praevia), and can help your doctor decide what further course of action to follow to ensure a safe and healthy delivery.

When is it performed?

Your doctor may advise you to undergo this scan during the second trimester—i.e., within 18 to 22 weeks of your pregnancy.

Is it essential?

While it’s helpful to get an early observation of your baby, it’s not compulsory or necessary. You can discuss it with your doctor or healthcare provider to explore your options with regards to this scan.

What is the procedure for the scan?

The procedure for a morphology scan is fairly simple. Your doctor will direct you to a specialised sonographer who will be conducting the process.

Initially, the sonographer will apply a gel on your abdomen and move a small handheld device called a transducer over it to obtain images of your baby. The scan takes about half an hour to complete. You might receive a photo or other copy of the scan.

What does the scan show?

A morphology scan lets you view an image of your baby. You might be able to see your baby’s heart beating, a clear image of your baby’s spine, and your baby’s arms and legs waving and kicking. The image generally looks like a blurry or low-resolution photograph.

Apart from the medical reasons for conducting the scan, seeing this image often helps parents feel more attached to their babies, and aids their emotional wellbeing.

What do the results mean?

After the scan, the sonographer might not give you a lot of specific information about your pregnancy and baby. A detailed scan report will be sent to your doctor or healthcare provider, so you will need to consult them to discuss the results in detail.

What should be done next?

If no abnormalities are detected, then there’s no specific further action to take.

However, if the scan reveals any abnormalities in the pregnancy, further tests may be required. This could take the form of follow-up scans or check-ups. Your doctor will explain your options more clearly, and may recommend consulting a specialist like a genetic counsellor, obstetrician, or paediatrician.

image source – https://www.qldxray.com.au/services/pregnancy-imaging/morphology-18-20-week/

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