Two Vessels or Three in Umbilical Cord?

Jane Foley's picture


Dear Ms Ultrasound,
My wife is into her 29th week of pregnancy. She had her first ultrasound in 24 weeks when the doctors said that everything is progressing normally. When she went for her second check up she voiced her concern of her belly being bigger than usual and that she felt heavy. The doctor measured her belly and found that this was indeed bigger than usual. He then recommended another ultrasound. The results opened up confusion.

Apparently the first scan showed that the umbilical cord had three blood vessels, the second scan shows that cord has two blood vessels. To clear the confusion the doctor has ordered another scan.

What does it mean for the baby? If she has a two blood vessels instead of the usual three, will the baby have any problems? The movements of the baby are normal and he keeps kicking and turning around actively in the belly.

Please advise,
Vasant and Preeti


Hi Vasant and Preeti,
Well, either the first person that did the ultrasound or the second made an error. If the cord does indeed have 2 vessels, a more intensive look at the baby and its anatomy will be necessary.

A 2 vessel cord can mean anything from a small urinary system problem to more serious genetic problem. In the 2 vessel cords I have seen, they have all been male babies, and have had minor problems with the urinary tract that were corrected after birth.

I think you should not worry too much until you have the next ultrasound. I hope this will be performed by a licensed sonographer so you both may be reassured at the accuracy of the study being done.

In some cases even after a thorough ultrasound, a doctor may require an amniocentesis to check for certain anomalies an ultrasound would not pick up.

Like I said, until it is confirmed one way or another don't worry too much. Many times these are little scares that don't ever pan out. Don't hesitate to write again once you know more.

-- Jane, RDMS