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Obstetric and nuchal ultrasound

Diagnostic obstetric ultrasound provides important medical information about fetal development. It diagnoses malformations, abnormalities or growth retardation and ensures the viability of the embryo or fetus. It also helps ensure that the fetal environment (amniotic fluid and placenta) is adequate.

A nuchal ultrasound for diagnostic purposes provides important medical information such as the size, age and healthiness of the fetus. It can also detect the presence of twins and diagnose certain congenital abnormalities.

Between the 11th and 13th week your pregnancy, your doctor may suggest an ultrasound to measure the nuchal translucency of the fetus (the subcutaneous space between its neck and cervical spine). If that space is larger than normal, the risk of Down syndrome is high, and the risk of other chromosome abnormalities or heart defects is also high. The nuchal translucency exam has to be combined with a blood sample.

ultrasound of a baby in the belly of his mother

A recommended examination

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada recommends this prenatal screening examination for all women whose pregnancy is between the 11th and 13th week and for all women under age 40 who have a low risk of giving birth to a baby with a physical or mental disability.

PRENATESTTM Prenatal Screening

ImagixTM offers you the PrenatestTM screening service during the first trimester of your pregnancy. The test is designed for all pregnant women, regardless of age, and does not pose any danger to the mother or the fetus.

Quick and straightforward, the test involves taking a few drops of blood taken from the tip of your finger and a nuchal ultrasound. PrenatestTM lets you know whether you are at risk of carrying a fetus that may have one of the two most common birth anomalies: Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome) or Trisomy 18.

Please note that Health Canada recommends that parents not expose their baby to ultrasound for non-medical purposes (e.g. for creating a memento video). The department publishes “Guidelines for the safe use of diagnostic ultrasound”, which stipulate that ultrasounds should not be used for the following purposes:

  • Taking a photo of the fetus solely for non-medical reasons
  • Determining the baby’s gender solely for non-medical reasons
  • For commercial purposes, such as trade shows, or for producing photos or videos of the fetus

Imagix's medical team supports the principles set out by Health Canada and encourages the use of obstetric ultrasound for medical purposes.

Preparing for the Examination

  • Prenatal screening (nuchal translucency): no preparation needed. It is important not to urinate before the exam.
  • Obstetric ultrasound:
    • For the 1st trimester and 18-20 weeks: you will need to drink 2 8-oz. (500 ml) glasses of water before the exam and do not urinate.
    • For 21 weeks or more: drink 1 8-oz. (250 ml) glass of water before the exam and do not urinate.

A medical prescription is required to perform this examination.

The costs of this examination are covered by the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ).

If your healthcare professional has prescribed this examination or if you have any questions, contact us at 1 833 590-2715.