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Fetal Morphology Scan in Hong Kong: Everything you need to know

Among the various prenatal examinations, fetal morphology scan/structural ultrasound scan is one of the most important ones. But when is the best time to undergo this examination during pregnancy? How much does it cost? Are there any differences between public and private hospitals? Let Bowtie provide you with a comprehensive answer !
Date 2023-08-15
Updated on 2023-09-11
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What is a fetal morphology scan?When is the best time for a fetal morphology scan?Process of a fetal morphology scanDifferences between a fetal morphology scan and prenatal screening ultrasoundPublic hospital vs. Private hospital/clinicPrice comparison in 2023Important considerations for the examinationAuthor's biography:

What is a fetal morphology scan?

A fetal morphology scan, also known as a “structural ultrasound scan”, is a procedure used to ensure the normal growth and development of the fetus. During the process, the baby’s limbs and internal organs are carefully examined. In the unfortunate event of identifying any structural abnormalities in the fetus, further diagnostic tests may be conducted, and expectant parents may choose to terminate the pregnancy.

When is the best time for a fetal morphology scan?

The optimal time for a structural ultrasound is usually between the 18th and 22nd week of pregnancy. If the ultrasound is done too early, some of the baby’s organs may not be fully developed, making it difficult to detect any structural abnormalities. On the other hand, if the ultrasound is done too late, the baby’s bones may obstruct the view of the internal organs, making the examination challenging.

Process of a fetal morphology scan

The entire process of a fetal morphology scan takes about 30 minutes. The doctor will carefully examine the baby’s structures and internal organs, including the skull, brain, eyes, lips, heart, lungs, abdomen, kidneys, bladder, spine, limbs, and genitalia. They will also assess the amniotic fluid volume and placenta position.

Differences between a fetal morphology scan and prenatal screening ultrasound

A prenatal screening ultrasound only provides a basic assessment of the baby’s heartbeat, size, position, as well as the amniotic fluid volume and placenta position of the expectant mother. In comparison, a fetal morphology scan is more detailed and comprehensive, as it includes a thorough examination of the baby’s structures and internal organs.

Public hospital vs. Private hospital/clinic

The scanning service provided by public hospitals is usually free of charge and are generally limited to older expectant mothers, those with medical histories, or those with suspected fetal abnormalities.

Private hospitals/clinics may charge a fee for the examination, but the waiting time is usually shorter. Some private facilities may even offer 3D or 4D ultrasound imaging, and expectant mothers may receive detailed reports, photos, and videos as records after the examination.

Price comparison in 2023

*** The following information has been collected and provided by Bowtie ***

  • Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital: HK$3,480 – $9,520
  • Hong Kong Baptist Hospital: HK$3,170
  • OT&P Clinic: HK$2,500

Important considerations for the examination

If you need to have a structural ultrasound, it is recommended to book the appointment 1 to 2 months in advance to ensure availability during the optimal time for the examination.

Other essential tests on the checklist:

  • Blood tests: Assessing blood type, Rh factor, hemoglobin and mean corpuscular volume, German measles antibodies, hepatitis B antigen, syphilis testing, and HIV antibodies.
  • Urine test: Checking for the presence of sugar and protein in the urine to diagnose gestational diabetes or preeclampsia.
  • Down syndrome screening: Methods include ultrasound measurements or blood tests, which help expectant parents prepare psychologically and make the most appropriate decisions.
  • HIV testing: Test results can be negative or positive. In case of a positive result, a venous blood sample will be taken for further testing at a laboratory. Early diagnosis allows for the development of effective treatment plans for both the expectant mother and the newborn, significantly reducing the chance of infant HIV infection to 1-2%.
  • Group B Streptococcus (GBS) swab screening: GBS can be detected through a swab test. Generally, around 10-30% of expectant mothers’ vaginal or rectal swab samples may show the presence of this bacteria, with the possibility of infection in the baby during the later stages of pregnancy.

Author's biography:

Dr. Lee Man Hin, Menelik

  • Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) from the University of London
  • Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (FRCOG), UK
  • Fellow of the Hong Kong College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (FHKCOG)
  • Fellow of the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine (FHKAM) in Obstetrics and Gynaecology
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