A missed abortion occurs when the fetus has died but hasn't been expelled from the uterus. On an ultrasound, there are a few distinct visual features that indicate a missed abortion.
Here are some key things that might be seen on an ultrasound.
Absence of a Fetal Heartbeat
Among the clearest and most definitive signs of a missed abortion is the absence of a fetal heartbeat. This can be observed on an ultrasound, which allows medical personnel to confirm a diagnosis in certain cases.
The absence of a fetal heartbeat on an ultrasound can occur for multiple reasons, including chromosomal abnormalities, placental malfunctions, or infections. In some cases, a heartbeat may be detected initially but can stop in the weeks following the ultrasound.
If a fetal heartbeat isn't detected on an ultrasound, your doctor can confirm the diagnosis with further tests. For instance, they may order a follow-up ultrasound or a blood test examining pregnancy hormones. Once the pregnancy is confirmed, you and your doctor can discuss potential next steps.
Fetal Growth Restriction
Another tell-tale sign of missed abortion on an ultrasound is fetal growth restriction. This means the fetus is not growing at a normal rate or that the size of the fetus is not consistent with their gestational age. This abnormality can be seen on an ultrasound as a slow growth rate, or the fetus may appear smaller than expected compared to other fetuses of the same gestational age.
To get a clear picture of the fetus's growth, your doctor may order multiple ultrasounds to compare the size of the fetus over time. During these sessions, your doctor may observe the gestational sac, amniotic fluid, and other organs to assess the baby's growth.
If there is a marked difference in size over time or if the fetus is much smaller than expected, it can indicate fetal growth restriction.
During an ultrasound, the fetus should be active and moving about. However, fetal inactivity can point to a missed abortion. On an ultrasound, the fetus may appear to be motionless or still. This could indicate that the baby has passed away.
To observe fetal activity, your medical professional might ask you to take a long walk or drink something sweet. This can prompt the baby to become more active and help them see if the fetus is still alive.
Remember, fetal inactivity doesn't always indicate a missed abortion. Sometimes the baby may just be sleeping or experiencing periods of rest. Further tests and ultrasounds can help make a more definitive diagnosis. For more information, contact a company like Bartow Family Resources Medical.