can someone help me understand nuchal scans?

I know there is the dating scan. Is the same as the nuchal scan or done at a different time? Also included in the nuchal scan is there a test they do on the baby and do you have to have it? Sorry I'm just not very ckear on whats involved and how it works.



  • Hi, I think it varies according to where you live. I had my dating scan at 12wks, this included the nuchal scan. But I've read other postings where people have had to have nuchal scans done privately.
    Part of me wishes they'd told me about the nuchal scan before I had it, so I could've opted out, as it caused us a lot of stress & heartache, probably unnecessarily.
  • really can someone explain what they do in the nuchal scan??
  • What did the nuchal scan actually involve?
  • It was just part of the dating scan - they measure a fold of skin at the back of baby's neck. If it's over a certain thickness baby could potentially have downs, other chromosomal disorders or heart defects. You're then offered blood tests & other invasive tests, but you don't have to have any of them. Nuchal scan can only be done between 11 & 14wks (I think I'm right with those dates).
    I was told nuchal fold was thickened, but I refused any further tests. Have been having extra scans with a consultant though, & thankfully everything looks fine!!!!!!
  • oh i never knew that, thanks x
  • sorry im being thick but do they detect the thickness of the fold by looking at the scan because I've heard of something where they take fluid from the baby -and its this i don't want.
  • I had to pay for my nuchal scan to be done privately. I wanted to know my risk for Down's and also where I live the first scan I would get on the NHS is at 18-22 weeks so we paid to have the nuchal scan. I couldn't wait that long to see my lo! The scan is the same procedure, I believe, as a dating scan, but they take extra measurements while doing the scan, the main one being the amount of fluid at the back of baby's neck, as SukiB says. I also had a blood test taken at the same time, but I had the results phoned through to me the following day. I came back as a low risk of Down's, plus I also got a confirmed due date, so the pregnancy was accurately dated at the same time.

    One bonus of going privately is they spend ages looking at the scan so you get to see your lo loads! Mine took about half an hour and it was amazing to see our baby wriggling about and waving! Hope this helps xxxx

  • The amount of fluid is measured during the scan. It's an amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS) test where they actually take the fluid from baby. This is a risky procedure and there's a slight risk of miscarriage from the procedure. But these tests give a definite yes or no as to whether your baby has Down's whereas the Nuchal Scan just gives a risk factor xxxx
  • funky u only have the cvs where they take fluid which has a slight risk of m/c if u are classed as high risk which they will tell u from the scan. i don't know how old u are guessing same as me 1983? as u have 83 by ur name so if u r in ur 20's is very low risk anyway the risk goes up with age i wouldn't worry xx
  • Thanks PrincessJane it was the cvs i was concerned about so at least i know i can just have the scan. Yep Im an 83 baby!
  • Just to clarify - no test will give you a definite yes or no as to whether or not a baby has a problem such as downs, they only give probabilities. Apparently the invasive ones are more accurate, but my consultant told me that they can still get the probabilities wrong.
    It's down to personal choice at the end of the day, but personally I didn't want to have an invasive test with a risk of miscarriage (however small).
  • Im with you on that decision Fraus!
  • I stand corrected Fraus!
  • I went to a really brilliant consultant in london who explained everything. His name is Mr Maxwell and he owns the London Ultrasound Centre. They did the nuchal scan + blood test and I got a really low risk so no need to have any more risky tests.
    Have a look at there website to read up more about nuchal scans. I'd say they were definitely worth the money and now I have two healthy boys to prove it! lol
  • An invasive test like an amnio (where they take a sample of amniotic fluid) or CVS (where they take a sample of cells from your placenta) will give you a definite answer as to whether your baby has a Down's, Edward'd or Patau's syndrome, as well as other genetic abnormalities.

    The Nuchal Translucency scan can be performed between 11+4 and 13+6. It measures the thickness of the fluid on the back of the baby's neck and this, combined with your age, and the age of the baby, will give you a statistical chance (like Sukina and the others have said) of your baby being born with a Down's. This is only a screening test though, and it is recognised that it only picks up about 70-80% of Down's babies accurately. If you fall into the high risk group (anything from 1:1 to 1:250) then you will be offered a diagnostic test - i.e. an invasive test mentioned about. CVS can be carried out from about 12 weeks I think, but you usually have to wait until around 16 weeks for an amnio. Results come back within 48 hours and will give you a yes or no answer as to whether your baby has Down's, Edward's or Patau's syndrome, and will also tell you the sex of your baby (if you want to know). Both invasive tests come with a small risk of miscarriage - 0.7% for an amnio and 1% for CVS. This may change from hospital to hospital so it's worth asking about the results for your hospital if it's something you are considering.

    I only know all of this as we paid to have a NT scan done privately, and the results put us in the high risk category (1:125 chance of Down's) - quite a shock to us as I'm only 28. We decided to have an amnio as a CVS would have been more difficult to do because of where my placenta lies. We got the results back in 24hours, and we are waiting for the full report (which analyses each set of chromosomes for any genetic abnormality) which takes around 3 weeks.

    It's very much a personal decision as to wether you have a screening test, and then whether you have a diagnostic test. The amnio procedure was fully explained to us, and we watched the procedure on screen as it was being done. It was over very quickly, and the needle went nowhere near the baby. It was relatively painless too (hurt more having bloods taken!).

    Hope this is useful!
  • I stand corrected! Don't mind admitting when I'm wrong. I obviously misunderstood what my consultant told me, though it still wouldn't have altered my decision.
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