What is the 20-Week Detailed Anatomy Pregnancy Scan?

As an expectant parent, one of the most exciting milestones is getting that first detailed look at your growing baby during the anomaly pregnancy scan around 20 weeks. This comprehensive ultrasound allows your sonographer to thoroughly examine the baby’s development and ensure everything is progressing smoothly.

In this video above, we go behind the scenes with Monica Healy, the clinical specialist sonographer at Ultrasound Ireland, as she walks us through exactly what happens during this important scan.

The Anomaly Scan Overview
The anomaly scan, also known as a 20-week scan or anatomy scan, typically takes 30-45 minutes to complete. During this time, the sonographer methodically reviews the baby’s brain, heart, organs, placenta, and other anatomical structures.

“We do an anomaly scan because we want to know if the baby has any anomalies that need attention the minute the baby is born,” explains Monica. “It’s not perfect, but we follow a strict protocol and try our best to detect any potential issues.”

A Guided Tour
As Monica began the scan, she easily pointed out the key anatomical markers on the ultrasound monitor – the cerebellum, ventricles, kidneys, and the four chambers of the heart pumping rhythmically. She deftly located and measured the head circumference, femur length, and abdominal circumference to ensure proper growth.

Color Doppler imaging allowed her to visualize the flow of blood through the heart and major vessels, looking for any abnormalities. Monica checked the baby’s diaphragm to verify positioning of organs and reviewed the placenta to ensure an unobstructed path for delivery.

Throughout the scan, she kindly explained what she was viewing and why each step was important. I marveled at the incredible detail visible through her trained eyes.

Meeting the Baby
Of course, no scan would be complete without getting a glimpse of the baby’s precious face and waving hands or feet! Using 3D imaging, Monica rendered a life-like view of the tiny hands, feet, and facial features. It’s amazing to see just how developed an unborn baby is by the 20 week mark.

For parents who wish to know, Monica can also determine the baby’s biological sex during this scan by examining the anatomy.

Why It Matters
While the anomaly scan is certainly an exciting bonding experience for expectant parents, its primary purpose is still medical in nature. By detecting potential issues early, parents and doctors can be better prepared with the proper knowledge, resources, or procedures needed once the baby is born.

As Monica states, “It allows us to make sure baby is growing normally and everything is healthy, so everybody is reassured.”

If you’re currently expecting, I’d highly encourage you reach out to us by email or phone. It’s a fascinating sneak peek at your little one’s development and a key step in ensuring a healthy pregnancy.

To learn more or to schedule, visit our detailed anatomy scan page here.


All of the content and articles on our blog and website are intended for informational purposes only. Please do not consider any of the information provided here as a substitute for medical advice. At all times seek medical advice directly with your own doctor and medical team.