by Teresa J. Mitchell
Worry. Fear. Anxiety. You might experience these emotions if your early ultrasound came back as "inconclusive." The phrase "inconclusive" means the ultrasound couldn't date the pregnancy and/or determine if your baby is growing and developing. If you're in this situation we hope this article will encourage you and help you understand an "inconclusive" ultrasound.
Most medical caregivers prefer to wait until after the eight-week mark before scheduling an ultrasound. Why? It eliminates unnecessary stress. There might be a situation where an early scan might be necessary.
"When I had my first ultrasound at 5weeks, 5days, there was only a sac. I was worried. Then at 7weeks 5days, there it was! Embryos grow very fast." ~katibug, Pregnancy.org member
Inaccurate dating: Your midwife or doctor use your last menstrual period to date your pregnancy. Because women's cycles vary -- some women ovulate much later in their menstrual cycle -- your baby could be younger than predicted.
The type of ultrasound: A vaginal ultrasound allows much better resolution. The technician gets a closer and more accurate look at your tiny babe. The technician will keep you completely covered and ask you to insert the probe or transducer into your vagina, making a sometime awkward moment, more comfortable. If your doctor performed an abdominal ultrasound, the baby might be developing normally but the equipment wasn't able to confirm.
The technician: For most reliable results, an early ultrasound should be performed by an experienced, certified ultrasound technician.
Older equipment: Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer and Pregnancy.org Expert, Jane Foley says, "The most common reason a heart beat could not be found on an early ultrasound is the equipment used." She goes on to explain, "The ultrasound equipment found in many doctor's offices is lower quality and might not have the capability to image certain body types. The ultrasound machines used in a dedicated ultrasound department are usually of better quality."
"My vaginal scan at a family practitioner's old machine showed my pregnancy was not viable. My information was transferred to an OB/GYN. He ordered a higher level scan at the hospital that showed the baby -- now a growing child -- was just fine." ~faith, Pregnancy.org member
Our "Ask the Ultrasound Expert," Jane Foley explains that: