Obstetric ultrasound is a scan used during pregnancy to monitor the precise size and growth of the foetus, and detect any abnormalities.
It is usually carried out initially at around 12 weeks of pregnancy when it may be possible to detect abnormalities such as Downs Syndrome. In later stages of pregnancy, the ultrasound may be able to detect abnormalities in organs or absence of limbs or fingers.
It is used to detect twins, monitor growth, show if there are any abnormalities and the position of the placenta and if, after a threatened miscarriage, can show the whether the foetus has survived.
It is by no means a complete detector of problems, but it presents far less risks than x-ray, which used to be the only means, and coupled with other antenatal tests, such as blood tests and amniocentesis, can give a very good overall picture of the developing pregnancy.
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