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36 week scan sudden unexpected abnormality

(41 Posts)
Peter4225 Wed 15-Nov-17 00:41:42

Hi, it's just after midnight and my wife is really upset. She's in bits. We has a 36 week scan today to check the position of a low lying placenta, we expected it not to have moved and it hadn't. Not a problem, we were prepared for the possibility of a c-section. The sonographer mentioned something about the baby being a little on the short side, but it was a passing comment that we didn't take much notice of at the time, because all of the measurements on the two previous scans had been within the normal percentile and neither the sonographer or the midwife made anything of it in the post scan consultation. Unfortunately it prompted my wife to have a closer look at the scan results in her file before going to bed. She said she'd had a terrible feeling. It showed that the femur length at 36 weeks, today, was 57mm, but on the previous 32 week scan it had been 61mm. That is in itself very strange. But also; the head circumference was now on the upper scale of normal as was the abdominal circumference. We read that these three factors combined could be a sign of dwarfism. None of this makes sense and we can't understand why none of the one-to-one midwife team or the sonographer hadn't flagged anything up at the time of the scan. I think that I should point out that we are practical people and will love our baby no matter what the outcome. I can only assume that the scan that we had today was in someway inaccurate and that's what I've told my wife, How else could the femur length have shortened???? I've promised that we'll go for another scan tomorrow morning, privately if necessary, but I doubt if either of us will sleep well tonight. Has anybody else come across a situation like this? The more I dwell on it, the less sense any of it makes, but it doesn't do anything to reduce my wife's anxiety.

celticmissey Wed 15-Nov-17 00:55:31

Don't try and over think the situation if you are not medically trained to interpret facts and scan results. If the sonographer was worried she would have told you they would be referring you to a Consultant. I'm assuming all of your wife's blood tests came back ok. If you are concerned have a chat with the mid wife - there may be a perfectly rational explanation for the measurements or they could be inaccurate but don't torture yourselves about it. Babies come in all shapes and sizes. I have many friends who were told their babies were on the small side and they were born perfectly healthy. I was given a 1 in 30 risk of my dd having downs syndrome from my blood results. had a low lying placenta and a caesarian section which I thought was a much better experience than i had ever imagined.My husband and I spent said we would love our dd whatever. She didn't have DS. Give the midwife a call first thing tomorrow!

HillaryWinshaw Wed 15-Nov-17 00:56:20

I’m sorry that you’re having such an anxious time. I’ve had many pregnancies and have experience of high-risk scans, etc. in my experience, significant issues such as this would be identified long before the 36 week mark. If the midwife had real concerns, you wouldn’t have been sent home. Try not to worry, although I know it’s easy for me to say.

ferrier Wed 15-Nov-17 01:01:03

Although you don't know if your suspicions are accurate or not, I would just like to say that I do know two people affected by dwarfism and they are the happiest of people, living perfectly normal lives. It isn't something to fear.

cowbag1 Wed 15-Nov-17 01:06:52

Sorry I've not had an identical experience to this but I do know that these late scans can be notoriously inaccurate because the baby is larger and more scruched up making it difficult for them to get a good picture.

I had a late scan (at 41w) with my last dc and it showed him to be much bigger than he was and also with a large abdomen but shorter femur measurements. He was absolutely fine though when born (albeit with a little pot belly!).

The anxiety this late on in pregnancy can be horrendous. I'm sure the sonographer would have told you if they had any concerns.

LorelaiVictoriaGilmore Wed 15-Nov-17 01:19:18

I don't have a medical background but my understanding is that ultrasound measurements aren't very precise - I had an nhs scan and a private scan at 12 weeks which came back with totally different measurements and due dates. The private scan measurements later 'corrected' themselves and the nhs and private clinic now only have my due dates a few days apart - measurements are still different though.

As pp said, the sonographer clearly noted the length of the femur and wasn't concerned. It may be on the shorter side, but not by much and the other measurements were normal. So basically what you have is a range of normal' results - babies grow differently which is why there is a range and not everyone will be 50th percentile for everything.

I'm am very familiar with anxiety during pregnancy (why I am awake at 1am) so you both have all my sympathy. I usually find that the best thing to do (even if my rationale self is telling me I'm being daft) is to deal with the source of the anxiety as quickly as possible. Call the midwife in the morning and get another scan too if that would help. But in the meantime, I hope you both get some sleep tonight!

TreaterAnita Wed 15-Nov-17 01:20:51

I’m pretty sure that femurs don’t get shorter OP so it sounds very much as though one of the measurements was wrong. It’s quite easy to take an inaccurate measurement at a scan, particularly if that’s not the purpose of the scan and the sonographer doesn’t check the previous measurements. I would try not to worry too much, though I can understand why you and your wife are concerned. Your first port of call tomorrow should be to phone your wife’s midwife and speak to her about the results.

In terms of reassuring stories, I had the same concerns with my first child (though he was growth restricted, so slightly different scenario). He is a bit of a shorty still but well within normal height guidelines and completely in proportion. My second baby was measured as having an abdo circumference which was off the chart at 36 weeks; I was expecting a massive baby - she was 7lb 7oz at term.

I hope you both get some sleep.

eeanne Wed 15-Nov-17 01:20:59

Screams measurement error to me. How can a femur shrink over 4 weeks?

I went through something similar where I was told baby was below 10th percentile at 28 weeks and had a small head so perhaps micro-cephalic. I booked a private scan the next day which showed a small baby (12th percentile) but head in proportion with the rest of the body.

Basically if the sonographer measures slightly off or the machine is less sensitive, you get big swings in percentiles. Scans aren't perfectly accurate even in the best of circumstances. But it caused me a huge amount of worry and anxiety so I feel for you wife.

If you can either through your hospital or privately, you might want another scan for reassurance.

CakesRUs Wed 15-Nov-17 01:23:21

Honestly think if they thought there was even a possibility of dwarfish it would have been bought up way before now, and it hasn’t.

They can check tiny fetal heart chambers and kidneys for abnormalities and I’m sure if the head or legs were concerning them in any way, they’d know.

Please try not to panic.

MrsOverTheRoad Wed 15-Nov-17 01:32:02

I also think there's been an error. One midwife measured my DD WAY out when she was born. She seemed to have shrunk when they did her again.

Human error OP.....try to remember they would have said something at the time!

Want2bSupermum Wed 15-Nov-17 01:40:08

Step away from google. If your wife is anxious you need to speak to a medical professional regarding those anxieties. Prenatal anxiety is very common and is linked to higher chances of having PND. I had a funny sense of something being off with my first pregnancy that others saw an anxiety. I had preeclampsia which is why I think you, in the plural sense, should go get a medical opinion to see if there is anything wrong.

PersianCatLady Wed 15-Nov-17 01:46:20

The closer you get to birth the harder it is to accurately measure the baby.

If I remember correctly I think it is because there is less room and the baby curls itself up.

Please stop worrying.

yorkshireyummymummy Wed 15-Nov-17 02:02:36

I hope that you don't read this until the morning because I hope you and your wife are both asleep getting some rest.
Please please try not to get too worked up.
As previous posters have said, if there were any concerns at all they would have kept your wife in hospital.
I don't know of any reason why a femur would get shorter - even in dwarfism! When you get to 36 weeks the spare room in the womb is negligable. Baby is now really really hard to measure with pinpoint accuracy.
Take into account different sonagraphers have different techniques and different levels of experience so I think it would be quite common for differences to occur.
I was scanned lots and lots ( every week at least once from ten weeks) due to high risk pregnancy. And trust me- if there's any problems they see they will get another scan done by a different member of staff and if there's anything wrong they tell you. And this doesn't happen over days, it's all done at the same time.
I would definatly either go back to the hospital tomorrow and get them to re scan . Share your fears with them. If there's no way you can get scanned then go to a private clinic if you can. You need to allay your fears as stress is bad for your wife and the baby.
What will be will be. You sound like sensible people, and your wife has the advantage of having a very loving caring husband to support her. I'm sure your baby will be just fine- I have never heard of anomalies not showing in scans until wk 36. Your baby is fine. He/ she is just squished and is hard to measure. Remember these are tiny differences - 4mm. That must be very easy to ' loose' when a baby is in a scrunched up position. OR the earlier 32 week scan may have not been 100% accurately measured.
I'm sending my very best wishes and hopes . Please let us know how your wife and baby are. There's something about mumsnet which is very special in the way people support each other and it's always good to hear the outcome of a thread. And you keep strong too- a dads role is very important!

TerrifyingFeistyCupcake Wed 15-Nov-17 08:53:03

Look, no abnormality has been identified. No medical professional is the slightest bit concerned. Your untrained and clearly anxious wife has found a discrepancy in measurements, yes, because she went LOOKING for one, even though this scan had nothing to do with femur measurements and there are always margins of error on these tools.

IF THERE WERE an abnormality, it would have been identified long ago, in one of the scans that is looking specifically for abnormalities. But all of this strongly suggests that your wife's anxiety needs help and support. This is not healthy for her and is likely to continue and even worsen after the birth if not addressed. Please speak to her and encourage her to speak to her midwife.

TerrifyingFeistyCupcake Wed 15-Nov-17 08:55:56

I would definatly either go back to the hospital tomorrow and get them to re scan . Share your fears with them. If there's no way you can get scanned then go to a private clinic if you can. You need to allay your fears as stress is bad for your wife and the baby.

I wouldn't recommend this. There is simply no call for another scan. I think OP and his wife are free to call and mention this, but I am 99.99999% sure that the midwife/medical team will simply confirm that there is no problem.

Also, stress won't affect the baby. Baby is fine. Stress and anxiety is just shit for the wife, and if OP's wife is anxious to the extent that she's crosschecking every measurement after every scan and convincing herself she's found abnormalities, that anxiety needs treated, not indulged with further "reassurance" scans.

Amaried Wed 15-Nov-17 08:59:55

Honestly growth scans at this stage are ridiculous as the baby is too large for a good reading.. the most accurate time for a big scan is 20 weeks when the baby still can be viewed on the screen as one unit.. if they were at all worried they would have told you and referred you.

Fuzzyduck21 Wed 15-Nov-17 09:24:25

Sorry that this has happened. O would certainly call your midwife and maternity triage and explain the situation and how distressed you both are (understandably). The scans at this point aren't entirely accurate as I was told my baby's growth had slowed down and was induced and in fact he was a reasonable weight (7lb a few days before 40wks) and could have cooked for a bit longer. I hope you get the clarification you need today. Otherwise I'd certainly pay for a scan as you suggested x

PersianCatLady Wed 15-Nov-17 09:41:41

I agree with Cupcake I think that your wife needs to get some help for her anxiety and getting another scan when it is not medically needed is not going to help in the long run.

LorelaiVictoriaGilmore Wed 15-Nov-17 09:51:55

As someone who has suffered from pre-natal anxiety, I think that one panic does not constitute pre-natal anxiety. I know lots of people who have had an irrational panic over something during their pregnancy but otherwise have been totally fine. If, like me, your wife has a panic regularly, or on-going anxiety then absolutely - seek help from your midwife doctor.

However, while dealing with my anxiety in the long-term the advice I have had from numerous doctors and midwives has been - yes, have the blood test, have another scan - do whatever you need so you can sleep at night in the short-term because that's important too.

Fuzzyduck21 Wed 15-Nov-17 09:54:22

Totally agree with this ^ another ex pre natal sufferer here. Advise is always to have the extra tests to help ease the anxiety while coubselling is going on to address the bigger problem. To be honest I don't know she has prenatal anxiety as this time around I don't and I still look at measurements out of interest and would certainly be concerned if I found out things didn't add up.

Peter4225 Wed 15-Nov-17 11:04:03

Hi, thanks for the comments, but this has nothing to do with pre-natal anxiety. My fault, I haven't explained myself enough. It's about a scan that makes absolutely no sense. Yes it's thrown up lots of questions and worries and caused considerable upset, but we are normally calm rational people. Having looked at this again in the cold light of day, there was obviously either an operator error or a scanner error.

To clarify; there are at least three measurement anomalies, all of which were incorrectly charted as being within the normal percentile . Also the scanner report is so distorted, based on previous scan measurements, that they would have raised real clinical concerns for anybody worth their salt. Dwarfism being the least of them. The rapid increase in head circumference could have been an indicator of hydrocephalus for example. We are both very well qualified health professionals but not gynaecologists and this is our first baby.

The reason for the scan was to establish if the placenta-previa had resolved. If the scan measurements were wrong with regard to the head, abdomen and femur then the position of the placenta relative to the OS could also be wrong and the gynae consultant might well have also made a clinical decision based on wrong or inaccurate measurements. In our case C- section or normal birth.

We've lost all confidence in the one to one sonographers and have booked an independent scan at our local hospital for later today.

I'll let you know the outcome.

Thanks again

Want2bSupermum Wed 15-Nov-17 11:15:47

Good luck!

Fucky Wed 15-Nov-17 11:16:04

The very best of luck to you two and your baby x

LorelaiVictoriaGilmore Wed 15-Nov-17 11:26:06

That really does sound like operator or equipment error. Awful that you have been caused anxiety as a result - hopefully you will get correct measurements today and can put all this behind you.

Good luck for today and please do update with the results.

AnUtterIdiot Wed 15-Nov-17 11:30:34

It sounds like an operator error. But I think you should also bear in mind that there's something like a 15% margin of error on fetal ultrasound, and the further along you are the harder it is to measure accurately. This is why mothers who are induced or sectioned early because their babies are predicted to be too small or too big can find that actually they're fine. Good luck with the scan.

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