The nuchal translucency examination is conducted between 11 and 14 weeks of gestation. It aims to estimate the possibility of the fetus to have Down syndrome or another chromosomal abnormality. The value of the method has widely been proven through the various studies and long standing experience.
However, during the past few years, the test has evolved due to new scientific data, doctors’ increasing experience and the aid of state-of the- art technological equipment. The nuchal translucency scan is now thought to be one of the most important examinations of pregnancy which indicates to what we should focus on, so as to have the best outcome for both the mother and the baby.
Examination of fetal anatomy
Taking into consideration the new scientific data, the nuchal translucency examination is thought to be the first trustworthy examination of the fetal anatomy. When it is conducted by specialized doctors, it can result in the diagnosis of major fetal structural abnormalities such as problems in the spinal column, the heart, the brain, the cranium, the bladder, the kidneys and the limbs.
Early diagnosis is of severe anatomical defects is of utmost importance for the couple, in order to receive the appropriate consultation and to conduct the necessary examinations when indicated.
Estimation of risk for pre-eclampsia and intrauterine fetal growth restriction
The main cause of pre-eclampsia and intrauterine fetal growth restriction (IUGR) is the poor development of the placenta. This can be predicted by assessing the blood flow in the mother’s uterine arteries in connection with her blood pressure and other specialized blood examinations. If there appears to be a high-risk of complications, connected to poor development of the placenta, a special treatment is suggested in conjunction with close monitoring of the pregnant woman.
Almost 50% of the cases of premature labour that occur before 34 weeks of gestation are linked to short cervix. The cervix is the lowest part of the uterus that is dilated during labour. The examination of the cervix by vaginal ultrasound during the 1st trimester scan is an important tool for detecting women who are at great risk of preterm labour and need closer monitoring.
All pregnant women are entitled to having the best prenatal care so as to take advantage of the full potential that the nuchal scan can offer. Hopefully, the early diagnosis and prevention of some serious obstetric complications is now feasible.