Early ultrasound testing


The earliest ultrasound scans in pregnancy are usually done to help be sure how many weeks pregnant you are and to see if baby's heart is beating. If they are done too early, there will be nothing to see. An ultrasound scan done 5-6 weeks after the last usual period may detect a pregnancy, but not necessarily the heart beat. The safest time to do an early scan to check the dates is around 7-8 weeks from the last period, that way if you are a week or two earlier than you thought, we should still detect the heart beat.  

If you have no idea when your last period was, for example if your periods are very erratic or have not returned after your last baby, sometimes we will use a blood test to help guide the best time for a scan. If your pregnancy hormone (B HCG) level is above 1000 - 1500, an ultrasound scan should show an early pregnancy within the uterus. This will be too soon to show the heart beat, which usually won't be present for another week or so. If there is more than one baby, these blood test levels are not very helpful!  

The cost of the scan varies across the nation, with some early pregnancy scans bulk billed or with the full cost covered by Medicare and other scans involving costs above Medicare of $100 or more. The best way to be sure of the cost is to ask when you are booking your scan, but you can also ask the doctor or midwife who has referred you for the scan if they know how much it will cost.

To get the best information, it is usual for the person doing the scan to ask permission to do a transvaginal scan, where the ultrasound probe is gently inserted into your vagina. This gives much more accurate information and is usually required for these early scans.  


More detailed information about scans in pregnancy is available here.