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Should I worry about the fetal stomach not being seen on ultrasound?

Q: I am 17 weeks and 4 days pregnant. I had an ultrasound done yesterday and the fetal stomach could not be seen. My doctor has asked for another ultrasound after 2 weeks and I also had an alpha fetal protein drawn yesterday. I am currently in the waiting process and I am going a bit crazy. Have you ever heard of this with a good outcome?

A:Please understand that 'stomach not seen' is not always 'stomach not present'. The biggest problem with too many ultrasounds and too many ultrasonographers is over diagnosis. So, too many abnormalities are being diagnosed, which are in fact inaccurate diagnosis. World wide in the best of hands only half the abnormalities in a fetus are recognised accurately on ultrasound. Ultrasound is at best a tool, which is to be used as a collaborative diagnosis and can be imprecise and inaccurate. You should get an ultrasound at 22 weeks and a triple test (beta HCG Alpha Fetoproteins and Serum estriol) from a good lab. I wonder why you got an Ultrasound done at 17 weeks when the recommendation for an abnormality scan is at 20 weeks (earliest) to 22 weeks. I have heard of lots of cases of such inaccurate diagnosis. In cases with normal stomach being labelled 'stomach not seen' there is no reason to lose your sleep. Indeed if there is no stomach it is cause for worry but here it is more likely that it has not been seen than it not being there. Please wait till 22 weeks and then get a detailed scan if at all required (just to reassure you) since if the stomach is really not there you will get a lot of other problems like too much water or IUGR in the fifth month onwards. Anyway, I wish you all the best. Please read more about your pregnancy especially how to protect yourself and your pregnancy from the new over medicalised methods of managing pregnancy.


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