What is a foetal anomaly scan?

This comprehensive ultrasound scan, also known as the fetal anomaly scan or mid-pregnancy scan, is performed anywhere between 18 and 22 weeks of pregnancy. It is offered to all expectant mothers, but you are not required to have it if you don't wish to. This scan evaluates the physical development milestones and fetal organs of your baby, as well as the presence of congenital defects. The 20-week screening scan produces a 2D black-and-white image, 3D image, or 4D image of the infant.

Why is a fetal anomaly scan used?

During a fetal anomaly ultrasound scan, healthcare providers measure the fetal organs and physical body parameters to assess the proper growth of the foetus. The scan also detects congenital disabilities or developmental issues with specific organs.

The technician will examine the fetal

  • heart
  • kidneys, and bladder
  • brain, neck, spine,
  • arms, legs,
  • feet, toes,
  • hands, fingers,
  • eyes, nose, lips, chin, and face,
  • stomach and intestines,
  • chest and lungs.

Detection in fetal anomaly scan

  • Amount of amniotic fluid
  • Listen for abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Look at the umbilical cord and its attachment to the placenta, as well as the blood flow.
  • Checks for the placenta and ensures that it doesn't cover the cervix.
  • Measures the condition of the ovaries, uterus, and cervix to rule out complications associated with fetal growth and delivery.  

Fetal anomaly scans assess the health of the foetus and detect any potential medical conditions such as.

  • Open spina bifida, serious cardiac abnormalities, lethal skeletal dysplasia, anencephaly, cleft lip, exomphalos, diaphragmatic hernia, Edwards' syndrome, gastroschisis, Patau's syndrome, and bilateral renal agenesis.

Open spina bifida, in particular, can usually be detected in nine out of ten babies who possess the condition. Early detection of such conditions can provide expectant parents with the opportunity to pursue potential treatments and interventions before or shortly after birth.

Administration of fetal anomaly scan

Prenatal scans are performed by trained sonographers. A handheld probe is used on the abdomen, after applying gel on it, to examine the baby's body. Although the procedure is painless, the sonographer may apply slight pressure to the abdomen to get a clearer image of the baby on the monitor.

Sometimes a good picture may be difficult to obtain if the baby rests in an awkward position and makes a lot of movement. Image clarity also depends on whether you gained significant weight during pregnancy or the presence of dense body tissue. To be prepared for the appointment, you will be asked to drink lots of water to have a full bladder when arriving.

Results of a fetal anomaly scan

Anatomy scans have become necessary since they help identify life-threatening situations that may affect the mother and the baby. It also detects genetic and developmental issues that can have long-term effects.

Every healthcare facility has its process, but in general, the ultrasound technician will show the images to an obstetrician right after the 20-week scan. The obstetrician analyses the images, reaching conclusions before meeting with the patient and delivering the results.

In case of unusual results of scans, the obstetrician may opt for additional prenatal testing or initiate early treatment for the condition. The obstetrician will monitor the suspected condition during pregnancy and delivery and determine the best course of treatment.


Nerves and anticipation can be expected when attending a fetal anomaly scan appointment. It is an emotional moment for parents to get the first glimpse of the baby and monitor its development. If case the scans are worrisome, it is best to consult with a healthcare professional to ensure that any potential issues are addressed. In most cases, the 20-week anatomy scan is a wonderful and exciting moment for parents-to-be.

Request an appointment at Apollo Cradle, Bengaluru - Brookefield. Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment.

1. What is the right time to get a fetal anomaly scan?

A fetal anomaly scan is usually performed between 18 and 22 weeks of pregnancy.

2. Are there any conitions which the scan is unable to detect?

Though the scan is accurate, conditions such as Down's syndrome, certain genetic issues, heart abnormalities, and scoliosis become difficult to identify by a fetal anomaly scan alone. Additional testing is required to identify these issues.

3. Is there any harm in undergoing a c?

No. The scan doesn't pose any risk to the mother or the baby.

4. Is it mandatory to have a fetal anomaly scan?

No. You can choose to not take the scan. However, it is only beneficial for the mother and the baby to rule out any further complications that are identified by the scan.

5. How long do I have to wait for the results?

You can get the results on the same day. At the same time, the reports can also be sent to an expert for further analysis, which may take a couple of days more.

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