What is Viability Scan?
- Published on August 12, 2022
A viable foetus is one that is considered sufficiently mature to survive outside the womb with or without technical support.
In India, a foetus becomes viable at a gestational age of 28 weeks. The gestational age of foetus viability differs from country to country, depending on various factors.
What is a viability scan?
If you are an expecting mother, your baby will become viable from about a gestational period of 28 weeks onwards.
However, you can undergo what is called an “early pregnancy viability scan”, also known as a “dating scan” (since it accurately confirms the date of the foetus), which can take place between seven to eleven weeks.
Viability scan procedure
A viability scan provides a lot of information about your pregnancy. It confirms the number of embryos, picks up the foetal heartbeat, and provides dimensional details of the embryo. If you are over 35, you would be advised and strongly recommended to undergo this procedure.
The viability scan procedure involves an ultrasound through the transvaginal route. It can also be performed externally by scanning your abdominal area (transabdominal ultrasound). You can undergo both procedures as an outpatient.
The entire procedure for a transabdominal scan shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. You might have to spend a bit more time for a transvaginal scan.
– Transabdominal ultrasound scanning
Transabdominal ultrasound scanning is non-invasive and painless. You have no reason to be worried about undergoing this viability scan procedure and will not experience any discomfort. In fact, you will have the exhilarating experience of seeing your baby on the monitor and hearing its heartbeat!
To undergo a transabdominal viability scan, you need to have a full bladder. So, ensure that you drink lots of water or liquids before you present yourself to the doctor. The doctor will expose your abdomen and cover it with a conductive gel.
They will then gently move a probe (ultrasound transducer) over your abdomen. The purpose of the transducer is to pick up images of your uterus and baby and display images on the monitor.
If you feel too much pressure being exerted by the transducer on your abdomen during this viability scan procedure, alert your doctor, who will then be gentler with the transducer. Your comfort is of primary importance, and your healthcare provider is duty-bound to ensure it.
– Transvaginal ultrasound scanning
In the case of a transvaginal ultrasound scanning, you need to have an empty bladder. So, your doctor will likely ask you to visit the bathroom just before you go in for the viability scan.
You might feel a slight discomfort with this type of viability ultrasound scan due to the insertion of the probe. However, your doctor will make all efforts to minimise this discomfort.
In principle, this scan is similar to an abdominal scan, but here, the probe (endovaginal probe) is covered by a sterile, lubricated condom and inserted into your vagina.
The probe isn’t inserted too deeply – just six to eight centimetres (2.4 to 3.1 inches) inside. It is then rotated to transmit images to the monitor, and the images are captured on a high-resolution camera. Printouts are taken of some of the images for making the report.
Reasons for a viability scan
Why would you want to have an early viability scan in pregnancy?
The first couple of months of your pregnancy can cause you a considerable amount of anxiety and concern. You may experience a bit of pain and perhaps a bit of spotting. Vaginal bleeding can be particularly concerning.
Having a viability scan clears up all these issues. Most of the time, everything is fine. However, this scan can confirm that things are OK and going according to schedule.
In short, you can get a viability scan to ensure that there are no serious issues. This procedure confirms and/or determines the following:
- Your baby is healthy and doing fine
- Your pregnancy is not ectopic (pregnancy in the fallopian tubes)
- Checks the number of embryos (whether single, twins, triplets and so on)
- Determines your pregnancy date and estimates the due date of delivery
- Checks for any possible abnormalities with your baby
- Checks for internal bleeding
- Records your baby’s heartbeat and ensures that the heart is beating normally.
The most common outcome of a viability scan is confirmation that the baby is doing fine and everything is on track. With the prospect of everything being under control, you should be relaxed and enjoy the experience as your doctor guides you through this important event of your pregnancy.
If you are pregnant or suspect you are, it’s recommended to consult a doctor at the earliest opportunity. You can visit Birla Fertility & IVF or book an appointment with Dr. Swati Mishra who will set you up for a scan. We offer the most competitive viability scan price in the industry.
1. What can I expect at a viability scan?
A viability scan pregnancy is part of the normal course during pregnancy. Do not be alarmed if your doctor schedules you for this procedure. It is extremely rare for any abnormalities to be detected during this scan. You will be made comfortable, and it is a painless procedure.
You will receive a lot of information about your baby through your viability scan. You will get to see the live image of your baby for the first time during the scan and even hear its heartbeat.
Finally, the viability scan cost is nominal compared to most other medical procedures.
2. How early can you have a viability scan?
The usual practice is to have a viability scan in pregnancy between 7 to 12 weeks. It is sometimes performed as early as 5 weeks. However, at 5 weeks, you won’t be able to hear your baby’s heartbeat; you might see it in the form of a pulsating mass, though.
At 5 to 6 weeks, a viability scan can confirm the gestational age besides confirming your pregnancy. This might be helpful if you are anxious as a result of undergoing IVF treatment or if you’ve had an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage previously.
3. What is the next possible step after a viability scan?
Once you are done with the viability scan for your baby, the next possible step could be a Harmony blood test. It is a simple blood test where your blood will be analysed to check for three medical conditions:
- Down syndrome
- Edward’s syndrome
- Patau syndrome
This test is performed from 10 weeks of pregnancy onwards.
At 12 weeks, your doctor might also recommend getting a Nuchal translucency scan. This scan detects Down syndrome, Edward’s syndrome, or Patau syndrome with an accuracy of about 95%.
4. What if my viability scan reveals unexpected information?
Sometimes things don’t go exactly as planned. There is always a rare possibility that there could be some anomalies in your viability scan results. Do not be despondent.
There is extensive technology in place today to deal with all sorts of medical issues. Your pregnancy will be subject to compassionate care by highly-qualified medical professionals using state-of-the-art facilities.
In the unlikely event that everything doesn’t go as expected, your healthcare provider might recommend counselling and fix an appointment for you for further testing and appropriate treatment.
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Dr Swati Mishra
Dr Swati Mishra is an internationally trained obstetrician-gynecologist and reproductive medicine specialist. She has trained and worked at some of the most reputed medical institutions in India and abroad. She has worked as a visiting consultant at multiple reputed reproductive medicine centers across Kolkata and as a chief consultant in ARC Fertility Center, Kolkata. Her unique skills and diverse work experience in India and the USA have made her a respected name in the ﬁeld of IVF. She is also a trained specialist in all types of laparoscopic, hysteroscopic and operative procedures related to fertility treatment
Over 18 years of experience
Kolkata, West Bengal
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