Nuchal Translucency (NT Scan)

Nuchal Translucency (NT Scan) is an ultrasound scan that is used to assess the risk of chromosomal abnormalities in a developing baby. It is a simple and non-invasive procedure that can provide valuable information during early pregnancy. The NT scan measures the thickness of fluid at the back of the baby's neck and can indicate increased risk when this area is thicker than expected. This scan can be carried out from 11 weeks to 13 weeks and 6 days of gestation and could help expectant parents make decisions about their pregnancy with confidence.

Types of NT Scans

There are three main types of nuchal translucency (NT scan): screening, diagnostic, and genetic. Screening is a non-invasive ultrasound scan that measures the thickness of the back of a baby's neck to assess the risk of Down syndrome. Diagnostic tests involve a needle being inserted into the womb to remove fluid or tissue samples for analysis. Genetic tests involve taking blood from the mother and/or father to look for certain genetic markers associated with chromosomal abnormalities.

When should one see a doctor for NT scans?

It is recommended that pregnant women visit a doctor for an NT scan between 11 and 13 weeks of pregnancy. An ultrasound technician will use a transducer to measure the clear space in the back of the baby’s neck, which allows for the detection of certain chromosomal abnormalities. The results are then reviewed by the doctor, who may order additional tests if necessary. This scan should not be seen as a diagnostic test, but rather as part of a screening process to provide parents with information about their unborn child's health.

Risk factors for NT scans

NT Scan risk factors include advanced maternal age, a family history of genetic disorders, certain medication use during pregnancy, and previous chromosomal abnormalities. Women carrying twins or triplets also have an increased likelihood of having an NT scan. Other elements that can affect the scan results are smoking, drug use, and obesity. It is important to note that these factors do not necessarily mean a baby will have a chromosomal abnormality; they only increase the chances of further testing being needed to confirm the diagnosis.

How should a patient prepare for the NT scan?

It is recommended that you prepare for an NT scan by wearing loose, comfortable clothing and avoiding lotions and creams on your abdomen. It is also advised to drink plenty of fluids before the scan so that a full bladder helps with the scan. It is best to arrive 10 minutes early for the appointment so that any paperwork can be filled out in advance. Make sure you have your referral letter and any relevant medical history available. Additionally, avoid eating or drinking anything sweet for at least two hours before the scan.

Risks and complications associated with NT scanning

NT scanning can carry certain risks and complications. These include discomfort during the procedure, a risk of miscarriage, incorrect results due to inaccurate measurements or faulty equipment, a small chance of infection, and in some cases, a slight risk that the needle used to take amniotic fluid may damage the baby. However, these risks are very rare, and any potential ones should be discussed with your doctor before proceeding.


Nuchal translucency (NT) scans are a non-invasive and safe procedure that provides vital information to expecting mothers. These scans can help identify potential health risks associated with their pregnancy, allowing them to take the necessary steps to ensure the best possible outcome for both mother and baby. The NT scan is a valuable tool for pregnant women and their healthcare providers, providing peace of mind as they prepare for one of life's most joyous events: the birth of a child. With access to this important information, parents can make informed decisions about their pregnancy with confidence.

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

1. How accurate are NT scans at detecting chromosomal abnormalities?

When combined with a blood test, NT scans can detect approximately 80–90% of babies with Down syndrome.

2. Are all pregnant women advised to have an NT scan?

Not all pregnant women are advised to have an NT scan. Some women may be offered one based on their risk factors, such as advanced maternal age or a family history of chromosomal abnormalities.

3. What happens if the results from an NT scan show an increased risk for chromosomal abnormalities?

If the results from an NT scan show an increased risk for chromosomal abnormalities, further testing, such as chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis, may be recommended to confirm the results.

4. What other tests may be necessary if my baby has an increased NT measurement?

If your baby's NT measurement is increased, your doctor may recommend additional tests, such as blood tests or CVS, to diagnose specific chromosomal conditions.

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