Getting the Best Picture for a Nuchal Translucency Scan

The Nuchal Translucency Scan is an important part of your antenatal care. In addition to checking on your baby’s growth and development, the sonographer will also perform the nuchal translucency test to screen for certain chromosomal abnormalities. The results can tell you whether your baby is at higher than normal risk of conditions such as Down’s syndrome. Although the ultrasound can usually be performed without any problems there are a few important factors that can influence the scan.

Nuchal Translucency Scan


Nuchal Translucency Scan can only be performed between 11 weeks and 14 weeks. The nuchal fold measurements can only be taken and used to predict the risk of chromosomal abnormalities during this stage of development. You must book your ultrasound appointment within this time period to have the nuchal translucency test, although other checks such as measuring the baby’s growth can be performed in earlier or later scans.

Getting a Clear Picture

Pregnancy ultrasounds can usually be performed as abdominal scans. However, it can sometimes be difficult to get the pictures that are needed to check on your baby’s health. Several factors can influence how easy it is to perform the Nuchal Translucency Scan:

  • If you are carrying a lot of weight around your abdomen it can make it harder to get a clear picture.
  • Some women have an unusually shaped or tilted womb, which can prevent the sonographer from getting the right view during the scan.
  • Having a full bladder can make it easier to see the baby, so it’s a good idea to have a drink about an hour before your scan.

If it isn’t possible to take the nuchal fold measurement, the sonographer may suggest trying an internal ultrasound instead. Internal or trans-vaginal scans use a specially designed ultrasound probe that is inserted into the vagina. It may be possible to get a clear enough picture this way to perform the screening test if the abdominal scan hasn’t worked.

As long as the measurement can be taken with one of these ultrasound techniques, the screening test can be performed. The doctor will then be available to discuss the results with you if any potential issues have been detected.

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137 Harley Street, London W1G 6BF
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Baker Street
Regent’s Park
Great Portland Street


Talbot Road, Talbot Road, Alderley Edge, Cheshire SK9 7HR
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Alderley Edge