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20 week scan - echogenic bowel

(54 Posts)
ipredicttrouble Fri 04-Feb-11 11:19:17


I was wondering if anyone out there has had any experience of an echogenic bowel discovered at the 20 wk scan.

I had my scan yesterday and this was detected. In addition, the measurements for the head and abdomen were on the small side.

This has totally knocked me for six. We are currently waiting for an appt to see a consultant.

I'm trying not to google too much but it's hard not to.

I'd appreciate any comments from anyone who's been in a similar situation.

Thank you

knackered76 Fri 04-Feb-11 14:22:31

Just wanted to say sorry for the stress you're going through. I've not had any experience myself and although I know it's really hard not to, please stop googling. I've just had a quick look as I didn't know what it was and although rare, I found information saying that often it's nothing sinister. When is your consultant appointment? Sorry I can't help more but keeping fingers crossed for a quick appointment and the least stress possible for you.

ipredicttrouble Fri 04-Feb-11 19:06:25

Thank you knackered that's very kind.

I don't have an appointment yet (they were meant to ring today but didn't, grrr). I'm hoping that it will be next week.

Anyone else out there?

ipredicttrouble Fri 04-Feb-11 21:49:41



cherryjam2011 Fri 04-Feb-11 22:02:03

hello - my 20 week scan also showed an echogenic bowel - bright white sections clear to see. The head and abdomen also measured small for dates. I had previously had a CVS as my 12 weeks scan gave me some worrying risks - as this has come back clear the Doctors were not too worried. They scanned me more often and although it turns out the baby was IUGR this was not related to the initial findings and the echogenic bowel sorted itself out. I was so worried and also searched the internet - The Docs have to keep you informed of anything they find - even if it is extremely unlikely to be a major problem, and although at first it seems that an echogenic bowel is really rare, you'd be surprised how many scans show this and then sort themselves out. Have they booked you in for another scan?

OoopsWeDidItAgain Fri 04-Feb-11 22:28:37

Really sorry you are going through this. I'm not a regular poster (more of a reader) but I couldn't not respond tonight as I had virtually exactly the same diagnosis at my 20 week scan with DD.
I was lucky enough to see a consultant the same day and he led my care from that day forward. I had tests for just about everything going - toxoplasmosis (sp?), cystic fybrosis, amongst other things but everything they tested for came back negative. I had weekly scans and DD always measured small and I had quite low amniotic fluid levels.

Then at about 26 weeks my blood pressure started to rise and I had trace amounts of protein in my urine. I was admitted to hospital at 27 weeks and was told to expect to stay there until DD arrived. Which she did the week after when I developed pre-eclampsia.

My consultant was never able to determine what caused the echogenic bowel and liver but suspected it was a symptom of the pre-eclampsia. DD also had lots of tests and scans following her birth but despite being so early, and only weighing 800g (she also had IUGR) she had no significant health problems at birth - just needed to grow! She is now a typical 4.5 year old and you would never now to look at her that she was ever any different.

I remember feeling terribly scared and alone after that first scan but I had a fantastic consultant who kept me reassured every step of the way. And although it wasn't the straight forward first pregnancy I had anticipated or would have liked, the end result was positive.

This probably isn't the 'everything will be hunky dory' response that you would have liked to read through but knackered is right, it's often not an indication of anything sinister at all. Please try not to worry, and don't google too much (though I know how hard it is not to)

Hope you get your appointment through quickly. I will be thinking of you. Let us know how you get on.

Sparklies Fri 04-Feb-11 23:46:45

Have a look on the Babycentre prenatal diagnosis / amniocentesis boards as they have a lot of people with similar situations. I've not been in it myself (my risks are due to bloodwork) but from what I remember reading, echogenic bowel is not such a "bad" marker in the scheme of things especially in isolation. It's actually very common. It can sometimes be caused by things like blood in the fluid - have you had any bleeding at all?

Hang in there, I know all about the worry (currently waiting it out after my bad bloodwork at 13 weeks, now 26 weeks!)

ipredicttrouble Sat 05-Feb-11 14:35:40

Thank you for taking the time to reply - it's much appreciated.

cherryjam - what is a CVS and IURG? I'm sure I should know but don't. I'm hoping that the hospital are going to ring on Monday with a date for the scan.

Oops - gosh it really sounds like you went through a lot - I'm glad to read that your DD is doing well. It must have been so scary to have given birth so early on. Do they know what caused the pre-eclampsia?

Sparklies - thank you for the info, I'll have a look. No, I've not had any bleeding at all. I hope your pregnancy goes well, do you mind if I ask what you mean by bad bloodwork?

Thank you again.

ipredicttrouble Sat 05-Feb-11 20:42:41


cherryjam2011 Sat 05-Feb-11 21:43:13


a CVS is Chorionic villus sampling which detects chromosomal abnormailities - this is offered at your 12 week scan if your scan + bloods show an increased risk. My risk was for Patau syndrome, though it is usually for Downs. The fact that it seems your intital 12 week scan did not show a need for this is a very good sign, and although I am not entirely sure, my Doctor did say that an echogenic bowel in isolation is not usually a problem.

IUGR is Intrauterine growth restriction - this is where there is a problem with the growth of the baby in the womb - this can be caused by smoking etc, though my cause was unknown. It meant that my baby was extremely small for dates and stopped growing at 28 weeks.
IUGR can be extreme or slight and again unless you have quite a few scans every fortnight or so, it is difficult to tell if this may be a problem for you. Did the Doctors indicate how small the measurements were??

I know it is really hard not to worry - every scan I had (and I had so many!) seemed to show another problem and after my 12 week scan I stopped googling - please stop if you can! I really hope you get another scan asap and please try not to worry too much.
Whilst my baby was premature he is doing really well and will catch up with his peers soon!

Best of luck


Sparklies Sat 05-Feb-11 22:38:39

I had blood tests at 12 weeks as part of the NT screening (most places offer this) and although the ultrasound looked great, the hormone levels in my blood were potentially markers for Down syndrome.

Hope everything works out!

ceebeegeebies Sat 05-Feb-11 22:41:47

I had that at the 20 week scan for DS2. Scan was on a Friday and they took blood from me and DH that day to test. Had a further appointment the following Tuesday for a more detailed scan - unfortunately DS1's 2nd birthday was that weekend so we had to put any worries to one side for that.

Went for the more detailed scan and they could not find any reason for it and the blood tests all came back clear..but it still 'hung' over us for the rest of the pregnancy.

Ds2 was born and was absolutely fine - he is now 2.3 and perfectly healthy smile

knackered76 Sun 06-Feb-11 08:47:41

Hi ipredict,
Phone tomorrow if you don't hear and demand an appointment to be made. Sometimes you need to be very pushy to get your way! I say this not because of something terrible being wrong but because of the stress you are going through. I hope you're managing okay and take heart from some of the messages here.

ipredicttrouble Sun 06-Feb-11 16:15:38

Thank you again ladies.

At my 12 week scan I had the nuchal fold measurement taken and a blood test. This came back with a 1:100,000 chance of Down Syndrome. (this was the same for my DD).

So, based on this I don't feel too worried about the possibility of Downs.

In terms of the measurements (head & abdomen) they are only just too small. One is on the lower limit and the other is marginally under.

Anyway, I guess I'm going to have to wait and see. Will be phoning the hospital tomorrow to get the appt fixed.

I know it sounds daft but I'm now starting to think that I've done something to cause this. Is this because I've had a glass of wine etc etc. Just feel awful.

ipredicttrouble Mon 07-Feb-11 09:23:25


OoopsWeDidItAgain Tue 08-Feb-11 12:45:49

Hi Ipredict

Hope you've managed to get your appointment sorted and that you are feeling a bit more settled.

I think for most cases of pre-eclampsia, there is no known cause. For me, I had a really poor functioning placenta - hence the low fluid, the IUGR and a generally rubbish pregnancy (I was categorically not a bloomer!). Eventually the placenta just wasn't up to doing it's job anymore.

I think the echogenic bowel thing was just a co-incidence and that I would have developed pre-eclampsia even if that hadn't been spotted at my 20 week scan. It certainly never got any worse through the next 8 weeks and DD was scanned a couple of times after her birth and as she grew, the white spots didn't.

It's only natural to don't feel that you have done something to cause this but please try and push this to the back of your mind cos there is nothing that you did or didn't do that would have made any difference.

Fingers crossed smile

JumpingJellyfish Tue 08-Feb-11 13:13:02

As a mum of a little girl with cystic fibrosis I know many little ones are born with a blocked bowel which some have shown in utero as an echogenic bowel. (we were lucky that DD1 didn't have a bowel obstruction, and had no clue she had CF before she was born). This is rare but it is one of the conditions often associated with an echogenic bowel. You and your partner can be tested to see if you carry the CF gene and therefore if it's possible that your baby has CF, but unless they do an amniocentesis there is no way of determining if the baby has CF until he/she is born. Babies born with an obstructed bowel need an operation within a couple of days of birth to clear the bowel- sounds terrifying but it is a fairly common procedure and very successful.
For what it's worth we were terrified and devastated when DD1 was diagnosed with CF, but 3.5 years down the line I really feel it could have been a lot worse, and medicine has moved on very quickly so that CF can be managed much better with medicines and physio regimes and children kept very well- our little lady is very healthy, active, and, well, a normal 3.5 yr old!

I have also had pre-eclampsia with each of my pregnancies and borderline IUGR so understand the worries there (though never heard that an echogenic bowel could be a possible symptom?). Our son was born at 30 weeks due to my PE, weighing 3lb, and although a very scary time he thrived in SCBU and after 8 weeks came home, now 5.5 yrs on a very healthy, happy and tall wee boy.

I guess in my rambled way I am saying try to stall the fear that such news always brings- it may not amount to anything too serious and in the worst case that it does you and your baby will be in excellent hands and you will find a way to get through it.

Really hope you get to see the consultant soon and hope he or she bring some good news. Good luck x

ipredicttrouble Tue 08-Feb-11 15:30:49

Thank you oops, that's a very reassuring message. I've got an appt for tomorrow morn. I will let you know how it goes if that makes sense.

I've had a really bad headache and a bit of blurred vision/dizziness over the last 2 days as well now. I'm not sure if this is just stress related??

Jumping thank you for your message too. I'm glad to read that both of your DC are doing well. I'm not sure if the echogenic bowel is linked to the small measurements or if these are completely unrelated?? I guess I'll find out more tomorrow.

ipredicttrouble Tue 08-Feb-11 15:32:48

Not 'if that makes sense'! Meant to say 'if that's ok?'!

Don't think my brain is functioning very well.

OoopsWeDidItAgain Tue 08-Feb-11 17:04:12

Understandably so!!

Glad to hear you've got your appointment sorted. That must give you some comfort.

Difficult though it is, try and chill tonight and don't think about the 'what if's. Put your feet up and eat chocolate!

Good luck for tomorrow. Will be thinking of you. And my fingers are still crossed smile

ipredicttrouble Tue 08-Feb-11 17:43:45

Thanks oops, I'll update tomorrow smile

knackered76 Tue 08-Feb-11 19:34:10

Hope all goes well tomorrow and you manage to get some answers. Take it easy on yourself, headaches can be stress related so wouldn't surprise me if the vision is as well. Hopefully you'll be able to relax a bit more after your meeting. Fingers crossed for answers for you

ipredicttrouble Wed 09-Feb-11 20:14:12


I just want to give a quick update in case anyone who has previously posted reads this.

Well, I had my appointment with the consultant today.

Basically, she did another anomaly scan and confirmed that the head is still on the small side of the scale and that the bowel is indeed echogenic. However, she found the size of the abdomen to be within the normal range (previously measured small).

She then went through all the possible reasons for the echogenic bowel but did state that approx 90% of babies with this 'condition' are born 'normal'.

Anyway, I had a blood test to check for possible infections and myself and DH had a blood test to see if we carry the CF gene. I am also booked in for another scan in 4 wks time to check growth (I got the impression that I would be scanned throughout the pregnancy). She indicated that if the growth of the baby tailed off at any point then they would deliver early?!

We were also overed an amnio to check for Downs which we declined. I had previously been given a 1:100,000 chance of Downs following the combined blood/nuchal test and so we felt that the odds weren't high enough to risk the 1:100 chance of miscarriage. However, Downs cannot be ruled out completely as echogenic bowel CAN be a marker for it.

So the upshot is is that we have no definite answers yet but will have to wait for the results of the blood tests and any news that the next scan brings.

I feel a lot calmer for some reason even though we actually don't know a great deal more.

Thank you again to all those who took the time to reply. It's very kind and much appreciated smile.

ceebeegeebies Wed 09-Feb-11 20:41:39

Thanks or the update - I hope it has put your mind a little bit at ease.

Not sure if the consultant mentioned to you but the most common reason for echogenic bowel is due to the baby swallowing blood - and it would not always have been obvious that you would have had a bleed.

I have always assumed that was the case with DS2 as there has never been any other explanation - when he was born, neither the midwives or the doctors showed any inclination to test him for anything as he was perfectly was as if the scan had never existed hmm Never realy understood why but was just grateful DS2 was ok smile

ipredicttrouble Thu 10-Feb-11 07:59:16

Hi ceebeegeebies

TBH she didn't really mention the baby swallowing blood. She asked if I'd bled at all during the pregnancy, which I haven't, and then left it at that. I had read about this reason previously but forgot to really mention it during the appt. I'll ask her at the next scan.

I'm really hoping for an outcome like yours smile

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