20 week ultrasound

20 Week Ultrasound to check for fetal abnormalities

By 20 weeks gestation, the fetus has grown enough so that an anatomical survey may be performed to check for congenital anomalies.  Although most pregnant patients want to get in sooner for this ultrasound to find out the gender of their baby, 20 weeks gestation is truly the optimal time to be able to get good imaging of the fetus.

pregnancy ultrasounds

Your 20 week ultrasound is a very special ultrasound but it can also be very stressful. There are many different aspects of your fetus that have to be seen and it is important that the diagnostic medical sonographer have full concentration to obtain the optimal images of the anatomy.

What is looked at during the 20 week ultrasound?

Your 20 week ultrasound will be looking at different parts of your baby’s anatomy including:

  • The fetal brain
  • Kidneys
  • Bladder
  • Heart
  • Diaphragm
  • Extremities
  • Face
  • Spine
  • Gender
  • and more…

Of course the baby’s gender can usually be seen as well.

The importance of the 20 week anatomical ultrasound

When you are pregnant it is sometimes forgotten at times by the pregnant mother and family that the 20 week ultrasound is not only to see the predict gender but, it is even more important for the diagnostic medical sonographer to do a complete assessment of the fetal organs, spine, amniotic fluid, placental location and more, to determine that this is a healthy baby.

Concentration is very important during this 20 week ultrasound and it is highly recommended that small children not be present for this extremely complex and important ultrasound exam.

How Does Patient Body Weight (body mass) Affect The 20 Week Ultrasound Images?

Maternal obesity or habitus may make it more difficult to get optimal imaging and therefore, if all of the anatomy is not obtained, the patient may have to return in order to complete the anatomical survey. At the 20 week ultrasound, although we would love to see all of the anatomy, just be patient if the ultrasound tech is unable to get certain parts of the anatomy.

What happens if an abnormality if found on a fetal ultrasound?

If there is an abnormality found on the fetus during the 20 week ultrasound, a level II ultrasound (there is no such thing as a level 3 or 4 ultrasound) will be recommended. This type of pregnancy ultrasound is a higher level ultrasound with a perinatal physician who specializes in diagnosing fetal abnormalities and what they mean.

There may be counseling involved to further explain what to expect and sometimes, further testing is recommended to check chromosomes of your fetus through amniocentesis.

Finding Something of concern at your 20 week ultrasound is not always a bad thing

Simply put, there are some markers that may be seen that suggest that there may be a possibility of some kind of syndrome. This does not mean that your fetus is sick, it just means that a closer look by a perinatalogist will be more beneficial and precise.

Ultrasound is not magic. It takes skill and should be used as a diagnostic tool to help determine that all is well with your baby. Pregnancy ultrasounds are amazing and can be a bonding experience. Just remember why you are really having this ultrasound.

Pregnancy Ultrasounds are special not only to the couple expecting the baby but also to the ultrasound tech who is performing the test. Making sure that everything is ok with a fetus is the top priority of your ultrasound tech so be patient to find out the gender of your baby and most importantly to know that your baby is healthy.

Pregnancy Ultrasounds after the 20 weeks

Unless there is an anomaly to be followed or suspicion of an anomaly found on your baby, the only other pregnancy ultrasounds that would be ordered by your doctor are to check growth of the fetus, check placenta position or if you develop diabetes or hypertension or some other condition that can affect the baby, you will not have any other ultrasounds for this pregnancy.

If you are thinking of purchasing a home pregnancy ultrasound machine, read about all of this here.