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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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: