A dating scan is a type of ultrasound examination performed during early pregnancy to determine the gestational age of the fetus. It is usually done between 8 and 14 weeks of pregnancy. The purpose of this scan is to:
Confirm Pregnancy: The scan confirms the presence of a viable pregnancy within the uterus.
Estimate Gestational Age: By measuring the size of the embryo or fetus, healthcare professionals can estimate how many weeks pregnant a woman is. This helps in determining the expected due date.
Detect Multiple Pregnancies: The scan can identify if there is more than one embryo, indicating a multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets, etc.).
Rule out Ectopic Pregnancy: An ultrasound can help rule out the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy (when the embryo implants outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes).
Assess the Health of the Fetus: The scan allows healthcare providers to check for the presence of a heartbeat and assess the overall health of the developing fetus.
During the dating scan, a transducer (a small handheld device) is moved over the woman’s abdomen. The sound waves it emits create images of the internal structures, including the uterus and the developing fetus. In some cases, a transvaginal ultrasound may be performed, where a probe is inserted into the vagina for a clearer view, especially in early stages of pregnancy.
This early dating scan is an important step in prenatal care as it helps establish a reliable due date and ensures that the pregnancy is progressing as expected. The due date is calculated based on the first day of the woman’s last menstrual period and is adjusted after the dating scan if necessary. It’s also an opportunity for healthcare providers to discuss important information about prenatal care, screening tests, and any concerns or questions the expectant parents may have.