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A-Z Services - Maternity Ultrasound Service

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Anomaly ultrasound scan: around 20 weeks

When you attend the FTSC, you will be offered another appointment to check your baby’s progress at around 20 weeks with an Anomaly Scan.

If you have not had an earlier scan or you have just arrived in Exeter, you need to contact your local GP surgery and arrange to see a Community Midwife.


What will happen at my ultrasound scan appointment? 
Scans are carried out by specially trained doctors or sonographers.  Exeter is a teaching hospital and some scans may be performed by a trainee under supervision.


Please inform staff if you do not wish a trainee or student to be present. The scan image will be best viewed in a room that is dimly lit.


You will first be asked to lie on a couch and raise your top to your chest and lower your skirt or trousers to your hips. Tissue paper will be tucked around your clothing to protect it from the ultrasound gel. (The gel makes sure there is good contact between the machine and your skin.) The sonographer passes a hand-held device called a probe over your skin. It is this probe which sends out ultrasound waves and picks them up the echo when they bounce back. The sonographer will carefully examine your baby. Scanning requires a lot of concentration, especially if your baby is active.


Having the scan does not hurt, but the sonographer may need to apply slight pressure to get the best views of the baby. A black and white picture of the baby will then be seen on the ultrasound screen. Most examination take about 20 minutes but occasionally you may be asked to wait longer to allow your baby to move into a more favourable position. Anomaly Scan appointment in pictures.
What is an Anomaly Scan?
As part of your ante-natal care, you are offered a scan at around 20 weeks. This scan is known as the “anomaly scan” and is to check your baby.


At this scan we can

In Exeter we work to the optimum standard as recommended by the Royal College of Obstetricians.
Most babies are healthy but sadly some have problems that could be serious. If you do not wish to know if your baby has an abnormality it may be best for you to decide not to have this scan. Full information about the scan we can offer at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital can be found in the Screening Tests for You and Your Baby Booklet. Please ensure you read this before attending your scan.


What might be seen at the Anomaly Scan?

 Most serious abnormalities can be detected on a 20 week scan. However, it is not possible to see all problems and some will only be found after birth. Scans are not so reliable at seeing problems such as some heart defects and we do not expect to pick up every heart condition before birth.


Some conditions such as cerebral palsy will not be seen on the scan.

Some minor problems may need follow-up care after the baby is born.


The quality of the scan image depends on many factors, including the position of the baby and the size of the mother. For example, it will be more difficult to see the baby clearly if the mother is overweight. A poor image will affect our ability to see problems.

What happens if something is wrong?

If the person performing your scan is concerned about anything, this will be explained .Another appointment and further tests may be offered.