Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Pregnancy

Font Size

Nuchal Translucency Screening Test

The nuchal (say "NEW-kuhl") translucency screening is a test done during pregnancy. It uses ultrasound to measure the thickness of the fluid buildup at the back of the developing baby's neck. If this area is thicker than normal, it can be an early sign of Down syndrome, trisomy 18, or heart problems.

The test is done between 11 and 14 weeks of pregnancy. It may be done as part of the first trimester screening test or the integrated screening test.

This test shows the chance that a baby may have a certain problem. It can't show for sure that a baby has a problem. You would need a diagnostic test, such as chorionic villus sampling (CVS) or amniocentesis, to find out for sure if the baby actually has a problem.

Why It Is Done

A nuchal translucency test is done to find out the chance that your developing baby (fetus) may be at risk for having Down syndrome or other problems.

How To Prepare

You may need a full bladder for the nuchal translucency test. If so, you'll be asked to drink water or other liquids just before the test and to avoid urinating before the test.

Talk with your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).

How It Is Done

Most often, a nuchal translucency test is done by a specially trained ultrasound technologist. But it may be done by a radiologist or an obstetrician who has received special training to do this test.

Often you don't need to remove your clothes for the test. You can lift your shirt and push down the waistband of your skirt or pants. If you're wearing a dress, you'll be given a cloth or paper covering to put over your legs during the test.

If you need a full bladder for the test, tell your doctor or ultrasound technologist if your bladder is so full that you're in pain.

1 | 2 | 3

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
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.

Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

Today on WebMD

hand circling date on calendar
Track your most fertile days.
woman looking at ultrasound
Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
The signs to watch out for.
pregnant woman in hospital
Are there ways to do it naturally?
slideshow fetal development
pregnancy first trimester warning signs
What Causes Bipolar
Woman trying on dress in store
pregnant woman
Close up on eyes of baby breastfeeding
healthtool pregnancy calendar
eddleman prepare your body pregnancy