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|Week 5 - Gestational Age (Fetal age 3 weeks)
The gestational sac is often the first thing that most transvaginal ultrasounds can detect at about 5 weeks. This is seen before a recognizable embryo can be seen. Within this week, at about week 5 ½ to the beginning of the 6th week, a yolk sac can be seen inside the gestational sac. The yolk sac will be the earliest source of nutrients for the developing fetus.
hCG levels can have quite a bit of variance at this point. Anything from 18 - 7,340 mIU/ml are considered normal at 5 weeks. Once the levels have reached at least 2000, some type of development is expected to be seen in the uterus using high resolution vaginal ultrasound. If using a transabdominal ultrasound, some type of development should be seen when the hCG level has reached 3600 mIU/ml. Although development may be seen earlier, these levels provide a guide of when something is expected to be seen. <snip>
Week 6 - Gestational Age (Fetal age 4 weeks)
5 ½ to 6 ½ weeks is usually a very good time to detect either a fetal pole or even a fetal heart beat by vaginal ultrasound. The fetal pole is the first visible sign of a developing embryo. This pole structure actually has some curve to it with the embryo’s head at one end and what looks like a tail at the other end. The fetal pole now allows for crown to rump measurements (CRL) to be taken, so that pregnancy dating can be a bit more accurate. The fetal pole may be seen at a crown-rump length (CRL) of 2-4mm, and the heartbeat may be seen as a regular flutter when the CRL has reached 5mm.
If a vaginal ultrasound is done and no fetal pole or cardiac activity is seen, another ultrasound scan should be done in 3-7 days. Due to the fact that pregnancy dating can be wrong, it would be much too early at this point to make a clear diagnosis on the outcome of the pregnancy.
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