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Questions to ask at anatomy scan?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I'm currently pregnant for the sixth time, and we're having the 20 week ultrasound in two days. This is the first time I've had the 20 week ultrasound since my second baby, and the first two times I was still trying to figure things out, and relied a lot on doctors to tell me everything was ok. This time I want to be more pro-active. DH asked me find out what all things we can learn from the ultrasound, and what things we need to specifically ask about because they won't necessarily think to tell us.

Obviously we can find out the gender. :P

We're interested in finding out where the placenta is. Last time, the doctor who delivered my son (after transferring to the hospital at the last minute) told me that he thought the placenta had grown into my old c-section scar from my first baby. I was in the middle of labor, so I didn't think to ask for an ultrasound to check. I had a c-section, but then the doctor never mentioned the placenta again. (I didn't ask because I figured there were no more decisions to be made about it, and I thought that was our last baby.) If we find that the placenta is attached over the scar, can you actually see if it's growing IN to the scar? How likely is that to happen? If you can see for sure that it has happened, how likely is it to be a problem?

I know that they measure the amniotic fluid, but I don't know how to interpret that information, or how important it is. As far as measuring the baby, all I know is that they measure the baby and look for problems. I don't know specifically what they are looking for, or how likely those things are to be problems.

What else can we find out? What questions should I ask? What things should I not worry about, because they aren't likely to be problems at this stage (like, for example, I know not to be concerned what position the baby is in this early on)?
post #2 of 12

It'll all depend on who's doing your ultrasound. At the hospitals around here, they won't give you any information during the ultrasound because it's a tech who's doing it and it gets interpreted by a radiologist before they send us the report.

post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
I don't understand why that matters - can't I just ask the doctor all my questions when he talks to me about the ultrasound?
post #4 of 12
It matters because the data and images are being gathered by one person and then you are talking to a completely different person later for your Q&A session. I can only speak from my experience, but I did have a lot of scans done this pregnancy due to placenta previa. And a few last time durin a miscarriage.

The miscarriage scan was in a hospital and the tech was mute about any medical things and just rude about everything else, that information she gathered was then passed to the docs, who weren't themselves seeing the live image. If I had had a question about something they weren't lookin for, it would have required another scan.

In a similar example, I had a perinatologist do a scan once and later had questions for my doctor that didn't occur to me at the time of the scan. He could answer some, but not all of them because he was just going off of notes and some pictures, not the active, live image an ultrasound gives in the moment.

They might not have taken a screen capture/measurement/ etc. of what you are asking about, which means the doc has no information on that detail.

However, not all techs are mute. At one of our scans, the tech narrated EVERYTHING she was doing, looking at, measuring and we had a nice conversation about what we could all see together. THEN, she called in the doc for his "official" diagnoses of the placental position and what not.

All my other scans were done by my OB himself.

So basically, find out who is doing your scan and what they are allowed to tell you so you know what you can and cannot expect from the scan.
post #5 of 12
Also, the gear matters. We had scans with the simplest cheap US machine, the OB's new and fancy machine AND the perinatologist's INCREDIBLY detailed machine which blew us away. You might be able to see some of that detail on one of those machines but not the others.

It might make sense to ask about wether your concerns about placenta positioning and growth can even be seen on the machine your OB uses, and if not, ask for a referral to a peri.
post #6 of 12

In my experience, I have had no problems with my amazing OB being able to tell me everything I wanted to know about my baby and placental location at the anatomy scan (I have had three of them in the past 4 years). All of mine were done by a tech and then I spoke with my doctor afterwards. I always ask the following questions:


Where is my placenta?

Is the baby of average size?

Can you tell me whether or not the baby has a cleft lip? (they can at 20 weeks, and its often a sign of something else that may be abnormal)

Are all organs looking good?

Does the baby's head look good? 

Are all the bones looking good?

Do I have an appropriate amount of amniotic fluid?

Ask them to confirm that there is only one baby in your belly :)


Now, this seems like an extensive list. Unless there is a problem, you are going to get a "yep" for almost all of these, so its not like it takes anymore than 2 minutes to ask this stuff. Some doctors might be annoyed, but  a good doctor will be happy that their patient is on top of the game and is a part of her care process. Ask away...you arent paying the doctor to keep you out of the loop.




Remember, that if you dont want to know the sex, make sure to tell the tech as soon as you start. Dont expect her to remember from reading your chart. 

post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Holly, that looks like a great list!
post #8 of 12

Cynthiamoon: hug2.gif Im so sorry you had to deal with a rude tech while going through such a hard time. 

post #9 of 12

You might ask about the cord and whether it is functioning properly, they checked this at my 20 week ultrasound and showed me images that showed how things were flowing too and away from baby. If there are moments of activity and rest, maybe ask about whether heart rates are appropriate at both times. As suggested, "appropriate" amount of amniotic fluid might be the best way to ask, as either too much or too little can indicate potential problems. My first US tech was pretty talkative and shared a lot with me about what measurements he was taking and what each one meant. He also gave me a detailed sheet which showed where each individual measurement placed baby developmentally on the CD with our ultrasound. If you want some type of recording, check beforehand to see if you need to bring anything and what you will need to bring in order to get images/recordings. Also, if you've ever had a history of problems with cysts, etc., you might want them to check and make certain that there is nothing developing around the uterus that might hinder baby's development.

post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the help! I had my ultrasound today, asked plenty of questions, and the ultrasound tech was very forthcoming with information. She pointed out all the organs and the two arteries in the cord before I even asked, and checked to make sure whether we wanted to know the sex. And it's a girl! All in all, it was a great experience, and I feel like it confirmed once again that I chose the right practice. smile.gif
post #11 of 12

Wonderful! Congratulations :) Makes you even, right? 4 girls and 4 boys?

post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
That's right! Kind of awesome, IMHO. :P
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