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Fetal Ultrasound

Results continued...

You may not receive information about the test right away. Full results are usually available in 1 or 2 days.

Fetal ultrasound
Normal:
  • The fetus is the size expected camera.gif for its age.
  • The heart rate and breathing activity of the fetus is normal for its age.
  • If the test is done late in the pregnancy, the fetus is in the head-down position.
  • The placenta is the size expected for the stage of the pregnancy and does not cover the cervix.
  • The uterus contains an adequate amount of amniotic fluid.
  • No birth defects can be seen. (Many minor defects and some major defects are not easily seen. Also, birth defects do not always show up early in pregnancy.)
Abnormal:
  • The fetus is growing more slowly than normal, is small, or is underdeveloped for its age.
  • The fetus is abnormally large for its age.
  • If this test is done late in the pregnancy, the fetus is in the buttocks-down (breech) position camera.gif.
  • Birth defects, such as absent kidneys or anencephaly, are present.
  • The placenta covers the cervix (placenta previa camera.gif).
  • The uterus contains too much or too little amniotic fluid.
  • The fetus is developing outside of the uterus (ectopic pregnancy camera.gif).
  • The scan shows abnormal tissue instead of a normal fetus (molar pregnancy).
  • The fetal heartbeat is not present. This can mean fetal death.

Many conditions can change fetal ultrasound results. Your doctor will discuss any significant abnormal results with you in relation to your past health.

What Affects the Test

Fetal ultrasound results may be affected by:

  • Being very overweight or obese.
  • Stool (feces) or air in the intestines or rectum.
  • An abnormally low amount of amniotic fluid.
  • Some fetal positions.
  • Not being able to lie still during the procedure.
  • A very active fetus.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 18, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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