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Why could the ultrasound not pick up the fetal stomach?

Q: I am 28 weeks pregnant and when I got an ultrasound done last week to check for my low lying placenta, the report said that they could not see the baby’s stomach. What does this mean? I am very scared and worried. They asked that I go back in 2 weeks for another ultrasound with the actual doctor, not a technician. What could this mean?

A:Failure to see the fetal stomach on an ultrasound scan can often mean that it did not contain normal swallowed fluid at the time the scan was performed. This can be a normal variation as the stomach is not always full, as in any adult. This can be verified by serial scans over the same day at intervals of 20-60 minutes. A persistently unfilled stomach implies structural abnormalities of the food pipe or the lips and palate or an abnormally located stomach in the fetal chest. It can also be consequent to abnormal development of the nerves and muscles that control the action of swallowing. A detailed advanced ultrasound scan can sort out these possibilities right away.

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