What Ultrasound Tests Are Needed During Pregnancy?

You will see your doctor regularly for tests and ultrasound scans throughout your pregnancy. These appointments ensure that your fetus is developing as expected and there are no developing health issues for you or your baby. Ultrasound technology uses safe high-frequency soundwaves that bounce off the fetus’s tissue, bones, and fluid, then translates these into images for the doctor and the mother to see. Ultrasounds are conducted throughout the pregnancy, but you may also want to know what ultrasound tests are needed during pregnancy?

When Are Ultrasounds Conducted?

Not every woman will have the same number of ultrasounds at the same intervals in her pregnancy. Though the appointments are scheduled in regular intervals, the number and frequency of ultrasounds needed are dependent on whether you have given birth before and if you have any pre-existing or pregnancy-related health conditions. In the case of high-risk pregnancies, the doctor may book you for more regular appointments. Typically, ultrasounds are scheduled in four-to-six-week intervals until you reach the 28th week of pregnancy. Ultrasound growth scans can be scheduled as often as every two weeks and when we assess the blood flow from the placenta to your baby, these can be weekly.

What Ultrasound Tests are Conducted?

While pregnant, you will have ultrasounds in each of the three trimesters. During this time, you don’t only get to have a look at your baby; you will also get updates on their development and well-being. During these ultrasound scans, tests are also conducted, but what ultrasound tests are needed?

First trimester:

  • To confirm pregnancy viability and location;
  • To rule out a miscarriage;
  • To rule out an ectopic pregnancy

If you do have an NIPT performed then:

  • 1st trimester anatomy ultrasound scan is performed 12 to 14 weeks, during which the anatomical structures of the fetus will be reviewed

If you do not have an NIPT performed then:

  • Nuchal translucency (NT scan) is performed 11+1 to 13+6 weeks, during which the fetus will be screened for chromosomal abnormalities like Down’s syndrome

Second trimester:

  • Check for abnormalities in the fetus 18 to 22 weeks
  • Ensure the placenta is working and where in the uterus it is located
  • Check how much amniotic fluid surrounds the fetus
  • Find out the gender of the baby

Third trimester:

  • Check the weight and size of your baby
  • See how the placenta is functioning

What Other Tests Need to Be Performed During Pregnancy?

While ultrasound scans yield a wealth of information, other tests also need to be performed to ensure the health of the baby and mother.

Other tests conducted during pregnancy:

Blood tests – to check for Rubella immunity and look for infections and other health concerns
Amniocentesis – a sample of amniotic fluid is taken to test for chromosomal abnormalities
Chorionic villus sampling – a sample of the placenta is taken to test for chromosomal abnormalities
Rh type blood test – to find out your blood type and Rh type
Gestational diabetes blood test – if you have high blood sugar levels, you’ll be diagnosed with gestational diabetes
Urine tests – to look at sugar, blood, and protein in your urine
Group B streptococcal (GBS) test – a vaginal swab is taken to test for (GBS)

Before getting overwhelmed by the medical aspects of your pregnancy, remember that your doctor and sonographer are there to answer your questions and put you at ease. With their help, you will know what to expect and how best to care for yourself.

OMNI Ultrasound & Gynaecological Care

Condous performs Advanced Endosurgery procedures for women needing intervention for pelvic masses, adnexal pathology, severe endometriosis or hysterectomy. He also runs ‘Hands on’ Live Sheep Laparoscopic Workshops for gynaecologists at Camden Veterinarian School.
Having completed an undergraduate degree with the University of Adelaide, he left Australia in 1993 and moved to London where he completed his training in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. From 2001 to 2003 Condous worked as a Senior Research Fellow at St George’s Hospital, London. At St George’s he set up the Acute Gynaecology Unit, the first in the United Kingdom. It was also during this time that he developed an interest in Early Pregnancy and especially the management of pregnancies of unknown location (PULs). Condous has developed many mathematical models for the prediction of outcome of PULs which have been featured in numerous peer review journals. In 2005, he returned to Australia where he completed his Laparoscopic Fellowship at the Centre for Advanced Reproductive Endosurgery, Royal North Shore, Sydney.

Condous was appointed as a Consultant Gynaecologist and Senior Lecturer at Nepean Hospital in 2006 and soon was made Associate Professor. In 2010, he was made Departmental Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Nepean Hospital. He obtained the MRCOG in 1999 and was made FRANZCOG in 2005. In 2009, he was awarded his Doctorate in Medicine (MD), University of London, for his thesis entitled: “The management of pregnancies of unknown location and the development of new mathematical models to predict outcome”.

Condous has edited three books including the “Handbook of Early Pregnancy Care”, published over 100 papers in international journals and is internationally renowned for his work in Early Pregnancy. He is the Associate Editor for Gynaecologic Obstetric Investigation, which is a European based journal, as well as the Australasian Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine (AJUM). He is on the organising committee and is an invited speaker at the International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynaecology (ISUOG) Scientific meeting in Sydney 2013. His current research interests relate to the management of ectopic pregnancy, 1st trimester growth, PULs and miscarriage and the use of transvaginal ultrasound (in particular sonovaginography, to predict posterior compartment deep infiltrating rectovaginal endometriosis).Condous is also actively involved with post-graduate education including the annual running of the Early Pregnancy and Gynaecological Ultrasound Interactive Courses for Sonologists, Radiologists, Sonographers and Gynaecologists in Australia.