Information about Early Pregnancy Assessment
The first two months of pregnancy can be very concerning for many women as symptoms such as vaginal bleeding and abdominal cramping are quite common. This leads to concerns about whether the pregnancy is developing normally or might result in a miscarriage or even an ectopic pregnancy. Since it can often be difficult access hospital services in a timely manner to obtain ultrasound scans to confirm normal pregnancy, the RCSI Fetal Medicine Centre has been set up to provide whatever advice and support may be required directly by patients.
While referral from a general practitioner, obstetrician or midwife is always encouraged, the RCSI Fetal Medicine Centre does not insist on such a referral prior to evaluating early pregnancy complaints. Patients can be seen quickly for necessary ultrasound examinations to confirm a healthy pregnancy. Such a Fetal Viability Scan is an ultrasound examination, usually carried out at 6 to 10 weeks to confirm that the pregnancy is developing normally and to provide reassurance regarding possible miscarriage. Additionally, this scan will confirm or exclude whether twins are present. It is generally advisable to not have an ultrasound examination prior to 6 weeks as frequently the pregnancy sac may be too small to be visible on ultrasound at such an early gestational age.
Fetal Viability Scans are performed either by the transabdominal or transvaginal route. For a transabdominal scan early in pregnancy it is important to ensure that the bladder is full prior to the appointment. If adequate views of the pregnancy cannot be obtained, then a transvaginal scan will usually be performed to get a more detailed view of the inside of the uterus. This is a simple procedure, in which a thin ultrasound probe with a sterile cover is gently inserted into the vagina to provide detailed pictures of the inside of the uterus. Occasionally a Fetal Viability Scan may be inconclusive, especially if the gestational age is less than 6 weeks. It may therefore be necessary to repeat the scan in 5-10 days, or to correlate the ultrasound results with a blood test measuring pregnancy hormone levels.