Taking a home pregnancy test does not confirm pregnancy. The pregnancy test is only the first step; an ultrasound is the most accurate way to confirm a viable pregnancy, find out how far along she is, and always should be performed by a trained medical professional.
After a positive pregnancy test, the next step is to determine if the pregnancy is healthy and rule out miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. This is done through both a comprehensive medical assessment and an ultrasound performed by a trained ultrasound sonographer.
An ultrasound is an imaging procedure using high-frequency sound waves to allow you and the medical professional to get a better understanding of what is going on with your body. It confirms a viable pregnancy, how far along she is, and a fetal heartbeat.
A miscarriage is a spontaneous loss of a pregnancy before the 20th week. Approximately 10-20 % of pregnancies end in miscarriage and an even higher percentage of miscarriages occur before a woman even knows she is pregnant.
According to the United States CDC, 1,118,000 out of 6,578,000 total pregnancies end in miscarriage with 80% of those occurring in the first trimester.
During an ultrasound appointment, a licensed sonographer will perform a comprehensive assessment including health history, vital signs, and pain assessment to detect abnormal cramping in your pelvic area or back, fluid, or clots actively passing through your vagina or spotting.
Often, miscarriages are silent. If none of these signs and symptoms are present, the licensed sonographer can proceed with the ultrasound. If the ultrasound demonstrates the inability to detect a baby’s heartbeat after six or more weeks of life, miscarriage precautions will be given and the patient will be immediately referred to a higher level of OBGYN care or emergency services.
Through early detection and intervention made possible by the ultrasound and comprehensive health assessment, life-threatening conditions can be assessed and addressed immediately.
An ectopic pregnancy is one that is growing in the wrong place. A normal baby grows inside the uterus or womb, but in an ectopic pregnancy, the baby can be in the fallopian tube, ovary, cervix, or abdominal cavity.
Ectopic pregnancies account for 1-2% of pregnancies and are the most common cause of pregnancy-related deaths in the first trimester.
During an ultrasound appointment, the sonographer will assess the patient for severe pain, specifically centered on one side of the abdomen or pelvis, lightheadedness, dizziness, blackouts, abnormally low blood pressure, the passage of tissue from the vagina or bleeding from the vagina that may or may not be active.
If the patient reports these symptoms during the health assessment or if the patient has a positive pregnancy test without a gestational sac on ultrasound, the patient will receive ectopic precautions and be referred to urgent care for immediate medical attention.
Missed ectopic pregnancy is a leading cause of emergency medicine malpractice claims.
At Turning Point Pregnancy Resource Center, we prioritize a comprehensive health assessment, which includes the ultrasound to not only give the patient all the information to make informed decisions but to aid in the early detection of medical emergencies.
We understand the integral part this plays in patient outcomes. Contact us to schedule an appointment.