Why Did He Say "Fetal Pole"?

QUESTION

Dear Ms Ultrasound,
I am 10 weeks, 4 days along. I had an ultrasound at doctor's office today. My bladder was empty so we couldn't get a real good picture but my doctor assured me that everything looked good and that he could see the heart fluttering.

He also used the word "fetal pole" several times. I didn't think anything of it, but as I searched the internet tonight regarding ultrasounds, I find that the term fetal pole is usually only used up until about 6 or 7 weeks and that by 10 weeks the work baby is used. Now I'm a little concerned.

Thanks,
Denise

ANSWER

Hi, Denise.
First off, there is NOTHING to be concerned about! The term fetal pole is used because the baby is not fully formed yet. On an ultrasound the baby is just a dot with a heartbeat in early pregnancy. As the pregnancy progresses closer to the second trimester the correct term is fetus although baby is used regularly. There is nothing to worry about. Fetal pole is normal terminology.

PS. Your due date is my birthday. :) Also Flag Day!

-- Jane, RDMS

Jane Foley

Jane Foley has worked as a Sonographer (Ultrasound Technologist) since 1979. Jane has lived and worked in many parts of the world including Saudi Arabia. She is a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer or RDMS. She pulls a wealth of information from her experience in the field of Radiology and her interactions with such a broad cross-section of cultures she has visited. She now makes her home on the island of Maui with her English husband, Michael.