Does a 2 Vessel Umbillical Cord Signal Problems?

Jane Foley's picture


Dear Ms Ultrasound,
I am 23 weeks pregnant with my son and they just found out he has a 2 vessel rather than 3 vessel umbilical cord. We are worried but were told not to be too worried. My AFP results came back normal and he is measuring on target.

I have a level 2 u/s on Friday and will have an u/s every 4 weeks. I will also have non-stress tests twice a week. I have a home doppler to check his heart beat for my own sanity, too.I am worried what could happen. I couldn't find out much information on the web about this. Please tell me your experiences. I heard it's very uncommon.

Thank you,


Hi Andrea,
It sounds like you are being cared for by your doctor quite appropriately. The only other option I could think of would be to do an amniocentesis. This test would check for any genetic problems and help in any delivery needs that might arise if there was a problem. Since you are being monitored so well and your AFP was normal, this probably isn't necessary.

The most common problem I have encountered when I have found a two vessel cord is urinary tract anomalies. This usually occurs in males. The last one I saw had a baby who had what was called hypospadias. This is where the urethra, the tube that drains the urine out through the penis, is on the underside of the penis. It was corrected and the baby was fine.

A two vessel cord only occurs in about 1% of the population. This anomaly can mean absolutely nothing or can signal some serious problems. Usually if there are serious problems the AFP is elevated. The times I have seen it, the outcome has been normal to problems with the urinary tract.

Hope this has helped.

-- Jane, RDMS