19 Week Scan
19 Week Scan in brief
The 19 week scan is the main ultrasound of your pregnancy. It is the best time for a universal detailed check of the fetus. This is when it is already large enough to examine in detail, and equally developed enough to be using its structures a lot. This gives extra information on its development. Additionally, it is not yet so bony that it blocks the ultrasound waves (and therefore the picture).
This main scan is also known as the 18 to 20 week Ultrasound, Anatomy Scan, Morphology Scan, and Mid-Trimester Ultrasound.
By aiming to book the ultrasound at 19½ weeks, we expect to complete a thorough examination of the whole fetus. This means an examination of the skull, brain, face, lips, chest/lungs, heart, stomach, bowel, abdominal wall (umbilical cord insertion), kidneys, bladder, spine, arms, legs, hands, and feet of the fetus. If desired, we can almost always disclose the fetal gender at this stage. Checking the volume of amniotic fluid and the proportions of the fetus at this stage of pregnancy are part of this general check.
We also can localise the placenta, check that the cervix is not shortening with the weight of the pregnancy, and detect many conditions in the mother that may be relevant to the pregnancy.
Why the 19 Week scan is so important
For most parents the 19 week scan becomes an important stage of reassurance that their pregnancy is progressing normally. It can also be a really motivating reward for the less pleasant aspects of pregnancy.
Parents find seeing the active fetus helpful, as it is normal not to be feeling movements in mid-pregnancy, despite how often you are asked about it! Unlike the first trimester, you may not have symptoms to “remind” you that the pregnancy is going well.
The 19 week ultrasound can check for problems which may be able to determine what is safest for your pregnancy.
Some conditions can be managed during pregnancy better if they are detected. Some problems in the fetus are relatively subtle in appearance but can indicate an emergency at birth. This means that the delivery of the baby will need to be well coordinated. Other problems do not trouble the fetus in utero, but are not compatible with survival after birth.
Limitations to the anatomy scan
A well timed examination is expected to detect major fetal structural malformations. However, even with the best ultrasound equipment, experienced examiners and good views, it's important to understand not all abnormalities are detectable. The easiest examples are where the condition causes no structural changes in the fetus, such as autism. Or, when the abnormality only develops in later pregnancy.
No matter how many tests parents choose to have, they still face some chance of problems in their offspring.
- Have questions for either pregnancy or gynaecology scans? See our FAQs.
- Have an appointment with us and want to know what to expect? See our patient practical information section.
- Do you need an ultrasound? Make a booking.
- Learn more about the team and QDOS Ultrasound.
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What problems could be detected?
We approach the examination as a systematic check to make sure development is normal. We then consider what it will mean if the findings don’t align with expectations. The order of checks may vary due to fetal position and other factors, but consists of a series of working systems in the fetus. For instance, a normal amniotic fluid volume, reassures us that the fetus has a working urinary tract (even before we look at the kidneys and bladder). A normal-looking brain greatly reduces the chance of open spina bifida (even before we check the spine). If you have any particular concerns that we have not elicited, please mention them.
Reasons why the 19 Week Scan between 18-20 weeks
The 19½ week timing is chosen for many reasons. The fetus is large enough to examine properly in almost all cases, and the pregnancy is still early enough for parents to consider all options if severe problems are found. Most major structural abnormalities arise by this time, and there are clues if later follow-up may be required.
Even so, depending on your build, previous scans and practical issues, we may allow you or opt to vary the time of the scan. If you think this might be necessary for you (such as a journey you have planned) it's best to mention this at the 12 to 13 week ultrasound.
How can I get the best out of my 19 week scan?
Apart from making sure the timing of the scan is correct, we can access more flattering angles for pictures (both in a medical sense and for how cute the fetus will look) if you arrive with some water in your bladder.
Also remember to allow enough time in case the fetal position varies from ideal positioning.
What if my 19 Week Scan identifies a problem?
You will be told if a problem is detected, even before your referring doctor knows. Sometimes, it is possible to say exactly what the problem is; at other times further tests are required. A follow-up may be advised to clarify. You will be given information on whether the condition is likely to be severe or minor. A second opinion ultrasound is always available, since it is often difficult to accept important news from someone you do not know well.
QDOS Ultrasound is located in West Leederville, Perth. Call 08 9481 4008 to make a booking.