Highly accurate 3D and 4D scans Senior specialist sonographer  Leading expert in foetal ultrasound

12 Week Nuchal Translucency Scan and Blood Test

The 12-week pregnancy ultrasound scan, or nuchal translucency scan, is usually the first routine scan of pregnancy for most women. During this visit your sonographer will thoroughly assess your pregnancy, confirm the baby’s heartbeat, and examine whether you are carrying one baby or more. 

Your sonographer will also have a detailed look at your baby’s head, brain, face, heart and stomach organs, and assess the risk of Down’s syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities. 


What can you see during a 12 week nuchal scan?

The 12 week ultrasound scan allows us to closely examine your baby’s anatomy and organs, take measurements and check for any abnormalities that may be linked with Down’s syndrome or other congenital complications. 

Your sonographer, Ms Ciara McKenna, is a leading expert in prenatal scanning, and can advise you if you require further monitoring or specialist input. However, in most cases, this detailed scan is a confirmation that everything is progressing normally, and is a chance for you to see images of your baby in detail. 


Can the 12 week scan or nuchal translucency scan identify the possibility of Down’s Syndrome?

During the ultrasound your sonographer will measure the amount of fluid at the back of your baby’s neck. This information can give an indication of the possibility of Down’s syndrome. 

If there is an increased risk of Downs syndrome, we also recommend having a blood test, which you can have on the same day of your scan, to provide further certainty. It is used to measure the levels of two important hormones in your blood. The blood test is optional, but on its own, the ultrasound is 70% accurate in predicting for Down’s syndrome, but this increases to 90% when combined with the blood test. 


What happens during the ultrasound appointment?  

While the scan itself takes around 30 minutes, we allow an hour for the appointment so that you do not feel rushed, and have plenty of time to make yourself comfortable and ask questions. Our sonographer will go through your personal medical history and talk you through the process. 


We always recommend an abdominal scan at this stage, as it provides more accuracy than a transvaginal scan. Once you’re in the examination chair, your sonographer will move a probe over your abdomen to get a detailed look at your baby’s anatomy, including the organs and placenta. 


Will the sonographer explain the images she sees?

Your sonographer will talk you through the images and point out aspects of your baby's anatomy.  She will explain what your scan, taken with your blood test, shows in terms of your risk level for Down’s syndrome and other congenital abnormalities. 

Ms Ciara McKenna, is an Advanced Practitioner in Obstetric and Gynaecological Ultrasound, and was Head of the Obstetric and Gynaecological Ultrasound department at the NHS Queen Charlotte's & Chelsea Hospital for many years. She is therefore highly experienced in assessing and interpreting pregnancy ultrasound images. 

Twin pregnancy 12 week scan


How do I access my scan results?

Your images will be in 3D and 4D (video) format and you will be able to access them through an online link. Your sonographer will also email the images and report to you and your doctor within 24 hours. 


What happens if further tests are needed after my 12 week scan?

Your sonographer will take time and great care to explain what is happening. If your ultrasound scan indicates a risk of abnormal development she will offer expert guidance and support in the next steps that are needed. 

After explaining the context for the findings, she will discuss further scans and tests that might be useful. We provide non-invasive prenatal tests, including the MaterniT21 PLUS Test and Illumina Prenatal Test, both of which offer highly accurate assessments of genetic abnormalities, providing you with valuable information on managing your pregnancy in a way that feels right for you. 


When will you next need a scan?

If your sonographer is happy with the results, and no more tests or scans are needed, your next scan will typically be around 20 weeks of pregnancy. 


Make an appointment for a 12 week nuchal translucency pregnancy scan

If you would like to visit our clinic for a 12 week nuchal transclucency pregnancy scan, please call 020 7244 4200 or make an appointment online.