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20 week scan echogenic (bright) bowel

(9 Posts)
Georgie300 Mon 13-Mar-17 10:33:25

I've never posted before but I'm looking for a bit of reassurance really. I am pregnant with my third baby and had my 20 week scan last Thursday. The baby was very uncooperative and in an awkward position so after 3 hours at the hospital and 4 long walks, and a second opinion from the sonographers colleague I was told that it seemed my babies bowel had a bright spot. Apparently apart from this the baby seemed perfect, measurements all fine, apart from the heart chambers that my uncooperative baby would not let him see so I would need another scan for. I was told not to worry as this echogenic or bright bowel alone is usually nothing more then that I had a bleed and the baby swollowed some blood. She said although she wasn't worried she had to make me aware of the worse case scenario which for bright bowel could be an indicator of cystic fibrosis! I have now been referred to London to a fetal medicine unit to have a more thorough scan from a consultant. My appointment is tomorrow and I'm feeling very anxious about it. Just wondered if anyone out there had had this, or new anyone who had? Thanks

Llamacorn Mon 13-Mar-17 10:40:30

This must be a worrying time for you, but very good you have a more detailed scan tomorrow and they can rule things out and out your mind at ease. This quick read should give you some basics until your scan, and reassuringly 97% of babies with an echogenic bowel during a scan do not have cystic fibrosis, and as you say is most likely from the baby swallowing a previous bleed you had. Best of luck.

CharMamaof2 Mon 13-Mar-17 12:05:42


I had the exact same situation at my 20 week scan for my 3rd baby, I am now 27 weeks and all is well. After the echogenic bowel was picked up my husband and I were immediately given blood tests for cystic fibrosis, along with other viruses. All came back negative within 2 weeks and I am booked in for a growth scan at the end of March. I was told 95% of these cases are the result of the baby swallowing blood. It's a really worrying time, but I'm hoping you have the same outcome I did, which I'm sure you will xx

zambean Mon 13-Mar-17 15:26:55

I also had this come up at my 20 week scan. It was a stressful time, especially because we had come back as high risk for Down's at 12 weeks, and had got the all clear for that and were hoping for smooth sailing from then on, only to be told at 20 weeks about the echogenic bowel.

As you may know, echogenic bowel can be associated with chromosomal disorders, such as Down's, Edward's and Patau's. But it is overwhelmingly likely not to be any of those; on its own, if it's the only marker, it would be very unlikely to be one of the trisomies. In my case, we knew it couldn't be, as we had had NIPT at 13 weeks which came back all clear.

The other thing is that can be caused by a congenital infection, so hopefully you will have been offered TORCH screening? And it is also associated with cystic fibrosis, so you may be offered a test to see if either you or your partner are carriers.

In my case, all of these tests came back all clear, and so the echogenic bowel remained unexplained. We ended up having lots and lots of growth scans as a result and it seems to have cleared up, and so we can only assume it was nothing, simply a result of the baby swallowing some blood. (I didn't have a bleed I'm aware of, although I did fall over on my bum about a week before the 20 week scan, which could possibly have caused an internal bleed). I'm 37 weeks now and there has been no further indication of anything wrong with the baby, and he is growing like an absolute beast (80th percentile on my last scan!)

I am someone who does a huge amount of reading and research when things like this happen, and from what I could work out, echogenic bowel on its own, as a sole marker, is rarely a sign of anything very worrying. Further, it seems it is being picked up and more and more as our ultrasound technology gets better and more sensitive. One of the later scans I had said the bowel was bright, but not as bright as bone, which it would need to be to be called echogenic, and the sonographer suggested that at one time, their equipment simply wouldn't have seen it.

So there are lots of reasons to be positive. I hope it all works out well for you. I read this, when it was happening to me, and I found it incredibly reassuring and helpful, I highly recommend it:

It's by a leading American sonographer who thinks that our advanced sonography is, in many cases like yours and mine, terrifying mothers of healthy babies for no real reason. That was certainly my experience!

Georgie300 Mon 13-Mar-17 17:32:05

Thank you so much! At least I know I'm not the only one, as I had never heard of this before. Glad to hear it worked out well for you all.
They did say my risk of downs was so low it wasn't a concern. Neither of us have been tested for cystic fibrosis before but we have had two healthy boys together so they said it would be unlikely. They mentioned blood tests and may have mentioned the torch test but its all such a blur now! The minute they took us in that little consultation room with a box of tissues on the table I just panicked and burst into tears, and then it was hard to take it all in. Hopefully more will be explained tomorrow. I will keep you updated, but thank you so much again for letting me know your experiences, and for the information, it really has helped x

Georgie300 Thu 16-Mar-17 11:14:05

Just an update. I had the scan Tuesday in London led by a professor. And he had no concerns about my baby, he double checked every measurement with ease and said my baby seems perfectly healthy. He showed me some particles floating around the baby and said these were blood particles and that my baby had swallowed some and that this is what had caused the bright bowel. He said I did not need any further tests or anything which I was surprised about! But my birthing hospital had already booked me in for another scan next Wednesday as they didn't check the heart at the last one so I will still go to that and see what they say, although the professor did check the heart also and said all was fine! smileIt was amazing how much clearer the scan was there, and we clearly saw we are having a boy, our third boy! Not that we even cared about the sex after such an ordeal! But I'm glad to report that all seems fine now. Although this baby seems to have been a pickle from day one giving me my first bout of morning sickness, and every pregnancy symptom under the sun! Managed to panic the midwives and me at my 16 week check up as he hid so they couldn't find the heartbeat, and now this! Hoping for plain sailing in this pregnancy from now on from. Good luck to you all too 👍

CharMamaof2 Thu 16-Mar-17 12:42:52

That's great news! Your story is pretty much a mirror image of ours! We too found out we are expecting a baby boy (after 2 girls, which was a shock), we weren't going to find out, but after the stress of the 20 week scan decided we needed to know! Would have been happy either way tho to be honest.
A obstetric consultant carried out our 20 week scan as they had sonographers off sick that day, and she too showed us the blood particles in the uterus and was very reassured that this was all it was, however as it was hospital protocol had to do extra tests and growth scan. You are somewhat reassured but awful waiting to know for sure!
Hope all goes well with your upcoming heart scan xx

Georgie300 Sat 18-Mar-17 10:08:34

Thank you for your response and Congratulations on your boy! I am glad everything worked out well for you too. It is scary but I do now feel reassured after having such a detailed scan. I am still a bit concerned that I have bled but they seemed to think that that was normal, and obviously I am not the only one if you had the same experience. Poor babies having to swollow that 😬

Sarahr81 Fri 05-Jan-18 22:30:27

Hi all. I know this is a fairly old post but I’m hoping someone sees my response. I’m currently 28 weeks pregnant with baby #2. We have a 17 month old daughter. Due to the fact I had preeclampsia with her, I’ve been having more scans than usual. 20 week scan was all great. Had another once at 25 weeks which was to check the blood flow to the placenta (due to previous preeclampsia which I am on low dose aspirin for) and all was great. No abnormalities seen. Baby was measuring large and chunky. No abnormalities seen. Had gestational diabetes check. All great. Had another growth scan today (28 weeks) and they say an echogenic bowel. The risks were explained and I’ve been crying my eyes out all day. I’m automatically thinking the worst that it’s downs or cystic fibrosis. Got an appointment for a more in depth scan next Thursday which will be carried out by a professor. I chose not to have the downs screening at the start of the pregnancy. The sonographer did mention she could see an area in the front of the placenta where I’d had a possible bleed. That’s the only thing I am clinging onto for hope as well as the fact that this echogenic bowel was not see at any other scans until today. Any advice welcome.

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