The nuchal (say “NEW-kuhl”) translucency screening is a test done during pregnancy. It uses ultrasound to measure the thickness of the fluid buildup at the back of the developing baby’s neck. If this area is thicker than normal, it can be an early sign of Down syndrome, trisomy 18, or heart problems.
The test is done between 11 and 14 weeks of pregnancy. It may be done as part of the first trimester screening test or the integrated screening test.
This test shows the chance that a baby may have a certain problem. It can’t show for sure that a baby has a problem. You would need a diagnostic test, such as chorionic villus sampling (CVS) or amniocentesis, to find out for sure if the baby actually has a problem.
Why It Is Done
A nuchal translucency test is done to find out the chance that your developing baby (fetus) may be at risk for having Down syndrome or other problems.
How To Prepare
You may need a full bladder for the nuchal translucency test. If so, you’ll be asked to drink water or other liquids just before the test and to avoid urinating before the test.
Talk with your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form.
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