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The NT Scan Procedure in Pregnancy A Complete Manual

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An NT (nuchal translucency) scan, also known as nuchal translucency ultrasound, is a prenatal screening test that is typically performed between 11 and 14 weeks of pregnancy. 

It is used to assess the risk of certain chromosomal abnormalities, particularly Down syndrome (trisomy 21) and other genetic disorders.

During the NT scan, an ultrasound technician measures the thickness of the fluid-filled space at the back of the baby’s neck, known as the nuchal translucency. 

An increased thickness of the nuchal translucency can be an indicator of genetic abnormalities. The technician also examines the baby’s overall development, looking for any other structural abnormalities.

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The NT scan is often combined with a blood test called the first-trimester combined screening test.

This blood test measures the levels of specific hormones and proteins in the mother’s blood to provide additional information about the risk of chromosomal abnormalities.

The results of the NT scan and blood test are used together with the mother’s age and other factors to calculate the individualized risk of the baby having a chromosomal abnormality. Best pathology lab Pune

If the risk is determined to be high, further diagnostic tests, such as chorionic villus sampling (CVS) or amniocentesis, may be recommended to confirm the diagnosis.

It’s important to note that the NT scan is a screening test, not a diagnostic test. It helps to identify pregnancies that may have a higher risk of certain genetic conditions, but it cannot provide a definitive diagnosis.

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Why is the NT Scan Important?

The NT (nuchal translucency) scan is important for several reasons:

  1. Early detection of chromosomal abnormalities: The NT scan, when combined with a blood test, can help identify pregnancies that have a higher risk of chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome. Detecting these conditions early in pregnancy allows expectant parents to make informed decisions about their pregnancy and potentially seek further diagnostic testing if necessary.
  2. Non-invasive screening: The NT scan is a non-invasive procedure that involves an ultrasound examination and a blood test. It does not pose any risks to the mother or the fetus, making it a safe option for early screening.
  3. Risk assessment: By measuring the thickness of the nuchal translucency, the NT scan provides valuable information about the likelihood of certain genetic conditions. This risk assessment helps healthcare providers identify pregnancies that may require additional monitoring or diagnostic tests. Best pathology lab Pune
  4. Peace of mind: For many hoping parents, the NT scan offers hope and peace of mind. While it does not provide a definitive diagnosis, it can help to identify pregnancies at higher risk, allowing parents to prepare emotionally and make informed decisions about their pregnancy.
  5. Facilitating further testing: If the NT scan and blood test indicate a higher risk of chromosomal abnormalities, it can prompt the need for further diagnostic tests such as chorionic villus sampling (CVS) or amniocentesis. These tests can provide more conclusive results but carry a small risk of complications, so they are typically reserved for pregnancies with an increased likelihood of genetic conditions.

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It’s important to remember that the decision to undergo the NT scan is a personal one, and expectant parents should discuss the benefits, limitations, and potential outcomes with their healthcare provider to make an informed choice.

How is the NT Scan Conducted in Pregnancy?

The NT (nuchal translucency) scan is conducted during pregnancy, typically between 11 and 14 weeks gestation. Here’s an overview of how the NT scan is conducted:

  1. Preparation: Generally, no specific preparation is required for an NT scan. You may be asked to have a full bladder before the scan, as it can help improve the visibility of the uterus and the fetus.
  2. Ultrasound examination: You will lie down on an examination table, and a trained ultrasound technician will perform the scan. A gel is applied to your abdomen to help the ultrasound probe make good contact and transmit sound waves. Best pathology lab Pune
  3. Nuchal translucency measurement: The technician will use the ultrasound probe to obtain images of the fetus. They will specifically focus on measuring the thickness of the fluid-filled space at the back of the baby’s neck, known as the nuchal translucency. This measurement is typically taken when the fetus is in a specific position and at a specific angle.
  4. Detailed examination: In addition to the nuchal translucency measurement, the technician will examine the overall development of the fetus. They will assess various anatomical structures, including the head, brain, spine, limbs, and major organs. The examination aims to detect any visible structural abnormalities. Best pathology lab Pune
  5. Combined screening test: In many cases, the NT scan is combined with a blood test known as the first-trimester combined screening test. The blood sample is usually taken before or after the ultrasound examination. The blood test measures specific hormones and proteins in the mother’s blood to provide additional information about the risk of chromosomal abnormalities.
  6. Results and counseling: The results of the NT scan and blood test are typically combined with the mother’s age and other factors to calculate an individualized risk assessment for chromosomal abnormalities. The healthcare provider will discuss the results with you, explain the findings, and provide guidance based on the risk assessment.
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It’s important to note that the NT scan is a screening test and does not provide an absolute diagnosis. In cases where the risk is determined to be high, further diagnostic tests, such as chorionic villus sampling (CVS) or amniocentesis, may be recommended to confirm or rule out the presence of genetic conditions.

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