Get your Health question answered in 3 easy steps
A Doctor will be with you shortly
Ask a Doctor Now
183 Doctors are Online

Pregnant. How many scans should be performed during the course of a pregnancy?

Mar 2013
User rating for this question
Very Good
Answered by
Practicing since : 1998
Answered : 5970 Questions
I am in 5th Month of my pregnancy and i have already had two scans one was at 6th week and another at 14th week. Yesterday i visited my doc and she advised for another scan. My pregnancy is absolutely normal and have not faced any problem so far. Now i am scared of getting scans done so frequently. Can you please advise how many scans do we require in entire pregnancy.
Posted Tue, 19 Mar 2013 in Pregnancy
Answered by Dr. Aarti Abraham 2 hours later
Thanks for your health query.

Ideally, a minimum of three scans should be performed during the course of a pregnancy.

The first scan is usually in early pregnancy, around 6 - 9 weeks, to confirm the location of the pregnancy, to find out whether it is a singleton/ multiple pregnancy, to confirm the presence of fetal heart activity and to confirm the age of the pregnancy to allocate an estimated due date. This is called the 'early pregnancy' or the 'dating' or the 'viability' scan. You have already had this at 6 weeks.

The next scan should be performed between 11 - 14 weeks as by this time the baby is fully formed . If there are any major structural problems like non-development on the skull, limbs etc., these can be detected. This is also a very important scan to assess the risk of chromosomal abnormalities like Down's Syndrome, in which mental retardation is a major component. This is called the 'nuchal scan'. This was also correctly done in your case at 14 weeks.

The third scan is performed at 18 - 23 weeks. By this time, the baby is much bigger and structures like the heart, kidneys, brain, facial features etc. are better developed and van be well visualised. The aim of this scan is to ensure normality of all these structures, diagnose major and minor problems and arrange further investigations, counselling or follow-ups accordingly. This is called the 'routine anomaly scan'.

The above three scans are the minimum recommended in a 'low-risk' mother in a pregnancy. Further scans, either in-between or later, will depend on the presence of any other problems either in a previous pregnancy, or in the present one. Some Obstetricians routinely request a 'growth scan' later in the pregnancy to assess the growth of the baby, placement of the placenta and the general well being of the baby.

There is no 'maximum' number of scans that can be performed in a pregnancy. The requirement of the scan should be decided based on the clinical scenario.

Hence, your doctor is absolutely right in ordered an anomaly scan at around 20 weeks. This is essential and should not be missed. Even if the pregnancy is uneventful, these 3 scans are recommended, and moreover, a further growth scan can be done in the third trimester also. If you develop any risk factors, even more ultrasounds can be done without worrying.

I understand your worry and concern since the traditional belief is that any kind of " radiation " harms the unborn baby. However, ultrasound makes use of sound waves and not radiation. It is absolutely safe in pregnancy, and till date no links have been found showing ultrasound to be harmful in any way to the fetus.

To allay your anxiety, am attaching a scientific link here : please go through it.

Hence, do not unnecessarily stress yourself out over this, and go for the recommended scan as advised.

Enjoy your pregnancy ! Hope I succeeded in clearing your doubt.

Feel free to ask for further clarifications.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Google+

The user accepted the expert's answer

Ask an OBGYN

© Ebix, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All the information, content and live chat provided on the site is intended to be for informational purposes only, and not a substitute for professional or medical advice. You should always speak with your doctor before you follow anything that you read on this website. Any health question asked on this site will be visible to the people who browse this site. Hence, the user assumes the responsibility not to divulge any personally identifiable information in the question. Use of this site is subject to our Terms & Conditions
Already Rated.
Your rating:

Ask a Doctor