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    Second Trimester Fetal Anomaly Scan during Pregnancy: What does it detect?

    Written on 17 March 2022

    A successful pregnancy includes a series of ultrasounds and other tests. Thanks to advanced medical science and technologies, women can now undergo such tests and take the required precautions. Among all other integral tests during the pregnancy phase, the anomaly scan is the most important one. Doctors suggest carrying out this test to check the baby’s growth, anatomy, and other factors that directly contribute to the health of a baby. The 5th-month tiffa scan report says whether the baby is healthy enough or the mother needs some extra care. It is one of the most valuable prenatal screening tests. This test can screen both abnormalities and detailed analysis. The detailed analysis helps in accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.

    Second Trimester Fetal Anomaly Scan: The definition

    This anomaly scan test generally takes place between the 18th to 21st week of the pregnancy duration and that’s why it is called the second-trimester fetal anomaly scan test. It is not that your doctor is suggesting it because he/she has detected some abnormalities. It’s now a common test for all pregnant women. It ensures that everything is well. Even if there is any growth-related issue of the fetus, the doctor can take early precautions and let you give birth to a healthy baby.

    Basically, this anomaly scan test is offered to every pregnant woman but if you don’t want to undergo it, you can deny it. The scan will deeply concentrate on the physical development of the in-womb baby. According to experts, it’s not effective in detecting every critical condition. It is quite similar to the 12th-week ultrasound scan. In the anomaly scan report, you will see that it crafts a 2D black and white image with the side view of the baby. This scanning procedure does not include any 3D or color images.

    This is basically a medical examination and it seeks your permission before the procedure. You have the option of denying it. But to be sure about the baby’s growth, most women undergo it. It is truly harmless and does not contain any complicated process that can irritate or cause pain to an expecting mother.

    What does an anomaly scan in pregnancy detect?

    This 20-week anomaly scan deeply concentrates on the detail of the baby’s bones, heart, spinal cord, brain, face, kidneys, and abdomen. Via this process, the sonographer looks for 11 rare conditions. It cannot find every possible issue. If the sonographer finds out something different, further special care is very much required for the mother. A normal anomaly scan report mainly concentrates on the below cases-

    1. Open spina bifida

    1. Exomphalos

    1. Anencephaly

    1. Diaphragmatic hernia

    1. Gastroschisis

    1. Serious cardiac abnormalities

    1. Bilateral renal agencies

    1. Lethal skeletal dysplasia

    1. Patau’s syndrome or T13

    1. Edward’s syndrome or T18

    1. Cleft lip

    Generally, a sample target scan during pregnancy normal report shows that everything is okay and the baby is growing normally. But if the sonographer finds something wrong or different, further diagnosis and special care are very much required.

    Anomaly scan results explained: If there’s something wrong, will an anomaly scan during pregnancy detect it?

    For some conditions, this scan works really well. For example, we can say that some babies grow a condition called spina bifida and it badly affects the spinal cord. Such a condition can be easily seen via this anomaly scan test. Generally, 9 babies out of 10 grow such a condition. On the other hand, if a baby is growing some heart abnormalities, it’s really hard to detect via this scan. It can detect 50% of heart abnormalities cases.

    Cases like cleft lip can be detected via this surgery. Such an issue can be easily resolved after the birth of the baby. In a very small number of pregnancy cases, sonographers find that the baby's brain, kidneys, and other internal organs are not developed properly. In some very rare and serious cases, doctors find that there is no treatment possible or available. The baby may or will die soon after birth or even inside the womb.

    The procedure and anomaly scan time duration

    The 5th-month anomaly scan test will be performed by a certified and trained professional known as a sonographer. The room where the test will take place will have a dim light so that the sonographer can take good pictures of the baby.

    The mother will be asked to lie on a couch and uncover the whole abdomen. The sonographer can be male or female but there will be a female attendee for sure. A soft and sober gell will be applied on the whole abdomen of the mother. The gel basically helps in the smooth gliding of the anomaly scan test probe. Apart from this, the gel also ensures that there is the required contact between the probe and the skin of the abdomen. A black and white image of the baby will appear on the ultrasound screen. The entire process is easy and does not contain any harm or irritation for the mother and baby.

    The anomaly scan process won’t hurt you but the sonographer may need to pressure on the probe a bit to get the best views of the baby. It can feel a little uncomfortable.

    The entire atmosphere will be silent rather than calm so that the sonographer can fully concentrate on the baby and get the best views. You can communicate with them if you are facing any irritation or noticing a change in your pregnancy. The entire process takes a maximum of 30 minutes. The doctor may ask you to drink plenty of water to get good views of the baby. Your bladder should remain full. So, according to the schedule of the test, you should start drinking water.

    Will this test reveal the sex of my baby?

    If you want to know the sex of your baby, you can ask the sonographer at the beginning. But revealing the sex of the baby is restricted in some countries before the birth. For example, before birth, it is not permissible in India.

    Even in some other countries, the hospitals and diagnostics labs will refuse such requests. So, it’s better to check the country's law and then decide whether you should ask the sonographer about the sex of the baby or not.

    Can my husband or partner come with me inside the scan room?

    Yes, you can take your partner or husband or friend or any family member with you. If the fetal has a health condition, it's better to take someone with you. It will give you support. You will get the mental strength to deal with issues if there is any. It will also help you in boosting your relationship as you both will witness the growth of your baby.

    But you cannot bring children with you as most hospitals do not allow children to be present inside the scanning room. You can ask the hospital while scheduling the appointment.

    Does the scan harm the mother or the baby?

    It’s completely your choice whether you want this test or not. Generally, this scanning procedure does not hurt or harm anyone. There is no such evidence found in studies. The process is quite painless. The mother will just feel a bit pressure via the probe.

    What if the anomaly scan report contains something?

    During the process, the sonographer may ask for another member to get the second opinion. Generally, most scans show that the baby is growing naturally and there is nothing to worry. We are again mentioning that anomaly scans may not detect all health conditions of the baby. There is always a chance that a baby can be born with a health issue not detected via this scan.

    Will the mother need any further tests?

    If the tiffa scan report contains something wrong, the mother may be suggested to get further tests to get specific results. Before proceeding with any further test, the mother will be asked for permission. The mother or the father or any other family member should get complete information about the further test and then proceed with the process. Without knowing much, you should not undergo any further test.

    The anomaly scan cost

    Generally, the anomaly scan cost ranges between 2000 to 5000. It can be lower or higher based on the location and lab expertise in India. There are a lot of government facilities that can help mothers with free or lower-cost anomaly scan tests.

    Concluding thoughts

    The overall pregnancy journey is beautiful. The expecting mother faces a different set of feelings throughout the journey. It’s really a beautiful thing that a cute baby is growing inside the womb. The mother starts to love the baby even when she hasn’t seen the baby. It’s the most celebrated relationship in this world. Still, the mother worries about the health of the baby. An anomaly test can assure an expecting mother that everything is going really well. Gynaecologists also seek anomaly scan test reports so that they can continue the best treatment in the best possible way. It’s a common test that every mother undergoes during their 5th-month of pregnancy. There’s nothing to worry about.

    Also read about: Fetal Doppler Scan During Pregnancy: In which week should you get it done?, Risks of Getting a Fetal Doppler Scan During Your Pregnancy and What to expect in a Nuchal Translucency scan during your Pregnancy?


    1. Tonni G, Grisolia G, Santana EF, Araujo Júnior E. (2016). Assessment of fetus during second trimester ultrasonography using HDlive software: What is its real application in the obstetrics clinical practice?. NCBI

    2. Bethune M, Alibrahim E, Davies B, Yong E. (2013). A pictorial guide for the second trimester ultrasound. NCBI

    3. Catharina Rydberg, Katarina Tunón. (2016). Detection of fetal abnormalities by second-trimester ultrasound screening in a non-selected population.

    4. Ding, Wen-Ping, Li, Nan, Chen, Min. (2020). Ultrasound Screening of Fetal Anomalies at 11–13+6 Weeks.

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