Missing Limb During 12-week Ultrasound

Jane Foley's picture


Dear Ms. Ultrasound,
I recently had my (first) 12-week ultrasound. Everything seemed to be going fine, but then the technician called in the doctor to do some extra looking. He seemed to be concerned with trying to get a good image of the baby's right arm, and was having difficulty. At the end, all he told us was that he was having trouble seeing the arm, and that it could be a problem but maybe just because it is so early, it was too difficult to see clearly. He suggested we come back in 3 weeks. Of course we are terrified and wondering how common this might be, and whether we should insist on going back sooner.

How common is it to "have trouble" finding limbs during a 12-week ultrasound? Should we be bracing ourselves for really bad news (e.g. a trisomy)?

Thanks for your help in advance,


It is a little early in the pregnancy to make an solid confirmation of limbs. This is best looked at in the mid 2nd trimester. I personally have never seen one limb missing. I don't know if your ultrasound was done vaginally or not. The best way to assess limbs this early is with a vaginal ultrasound. Hopefully when you return for your next ultrasound all will be fine! It will not be necessary to do a vaginal once you are in the 2nd trimester.

If it is not, or you have more questions just let me know.

With regards,
-- Jane RDMS.


I just went to my ultrasound appt yesterday and both the technician and doctor informed me they weren't able to detect the baby's limbs (arms and legs). They are "concerned" and wanted to let me know this is rare case and they don't can't tell me the reason why and how it happened. They have furthered advised me to get a second opinion through another clinic where they equipments there are more advanced than the ones they have. They said that things are "not quite right" but can't explain. They said usually in most cases, they should be able to detect all bone structures and see the limbs through the ultrasound at 12th week already. But for some reason, they can't see my baby's. My question is how accurate are the result from the ultrasound? My husband and I are very worried and it sounded like we may have to decide if we wish to terminate our pregnancy once the second ultrasound is confirmed that they can't detect any limbs. FYI, I just completed my 11 weeks - I am on starting my 12th week pregnancy today. Any comments are greatly appreciated.