A TIFFA scan or a fetal anomaly scan is one of the most important scans of your pregnancy. It is done to rule out any abnormalities in the growing baby. It is also a great opportunity to see your baby clearly and catch glimpses of their movements. Let us see in detail what a TIFFA scan is and why it is so important.
When TIFFA scan is done in pregnancy?
The TIFFA scan is a detailed ultrasound, done midway through your pregnancy, usually around the 18th to 22nd week.
Why is TIFFA scan done?
The main purpose of this scan is to check that your little one is growing normally and to look at the position of the placenta. At this stage, your baby’s organs have almost finished developing and have moved to their correct positions. This is the perfect time to examine them for anomalies. The TIFFA scan helps the doctor:
- know if the baby is growing well.
- Check the baby’s movements.
- Check the amount of amniotic fluid you have.
- Check the position of the placenta and the umbilical cord.
- Check for certain birth defects.
- Check for markers of chromosomal abnormalities.
- Check the cervix and measure the birth canal.
- Check the blood flow in the uterus.
Is TIFFA scan painful?
TIFFA scan is a very positive experience for moms to be as you don’t need to wait with a full bladder. You’ll also get to see your baby clearly, which can be exciting for you and your family! It is not a painful procedure at all and is done exactly like a normal ultrasound.
How long does TIFFA scan take?
The TIFFA scan can take a little longer than your average ultrasound as the ultrasound technician has to examine your baby in detail. To conduct the scan, you will be asked to lie on a table with your abdomen exposed. A cold gel will be applied to your belly and a probe will be used to capture your baby’s features.
During the scan, the ultrasound tech will try to capture your baby from as many angles as possible to get the clearest view, from head to toe. She will also be measuring them as she gets a clear view. Sometimes, you may also have a vaginal probe scan in addition to the abdominal scan. This is done if your doctor has requested for more information about the cervix or if the baby’s visibility is obstructed.
Even though you will be able to see the monitor, it can be hard to understand the data as the angles and cross-sections can vary. Your baby’s bones will look white on the screen, the muscles will look speckled grey and all the fluid will look black. Many hospitals also provide 3D or 4D scans, which can show your baby very clearly. In some hospitals, you can request the recording of the scan in a CD.
Many technicians will turn the screen away from you after you’ve seen the baby to complete the rest of the scan. This may also be done to avoid revealing the gender of your baby. The technicians will also call in a family member at the end to show the baby. However, in some districts in India, no one may be allowed to look at the screen.
What can the TIFFA scan show about your baby?
In the TIFFA scan results, you will be able to see:
- The size, shape and structure of your baby’s head and brain.
- Cleft lip, if present.
- The spine, its length and cross-section.
- Your baby’s heart, its chambers and valves.
- Your baby’s kidney function. Your baby pees every half an hour, so it is easy to see the bladder fill up.
- Your baby’s feet, arms, legs, hands, fingers and toes.
- Details about the umbilical cord, and the three blood vessels in it.
- The levels of amniotic fluid.
- The position of the placenta. If the placenta is on the back side of the uterus, it is called posterior; if it is near the top, it is called fundus. Placenta on the front wall is called anterior. If the placenta is low lying near the cervix, you may need an additional scan in the third trimester to see if it has moved away.
- Head circumference (HC), head diameter (BPD), abdominal circumference (AC), thigh bone length (FL), arm bone. The measurements will be checked if they correspond to the stage of development your baby is in. if your baby’s growth and the expected range are off by more than 2 weeks, you will be asked to take extra tests and scans in the future to check growth.
What if there are anomalies seen in the scan?
Most conditions that the technicians are looking for are very rare. Most of them are treatable, with a few exceptions. Diagnosing a condition in advance helps the doctor ready appropriate care for the baby as soon as it is born. Some conditions can go undetected even in an ultrasound. So even if you find that your baby has one ultrasound soft marker for an abnormality, your baby is likely going to be very fine and healthy.
If your doctor orders repeat scanning, it is not a reason to panic. About 15% of mommas to be will need a repeat scan because of obstruction in the baby’s position or if the mommas are overweight.
If your doctor suspects that your baby does have an anomaly, you will be informed straight away. Such conditions are rare and today’s medical advancements provide a range of ways to cure them.
There is a reason that the cut-off period for the scan is 19 weeks 6 days. If there are any serious anomalies found in the foetus, the legal period to terminate a pregnancy ends in 19 weeks 6 days.
Is TIFFA scan mandatory?
TIFFA is a routine scan prescribed to all pregnant women to keep tabs on the development of the baby. If you do not want to have the scan for reasons, talk to your doctor about it. You may be refused care if you do not follow your doctor’s instructions.
What is the difference between TIFFA scan and NT scan?
Pregnant women are normally scanned 4 times through their pregnancy. The first scan is done as soon as you find out you are pregnant, to check if the embryo has embedded itself into the uterus. The last scan is done in the last trimester to check the baby’s growth.
The two scans in between are called the NT scan and the TIFFA scan. NT scan, called the Nuchal translucency scan is done to check for down’s syndrome, in the first trimester. The TIFFA scan is done in the second trimester to look for other anomalies in the organs and in growth. The two scans are done to look for different conditions, so you cannot skip the TIFFA scan because you had a NT scan.
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