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During the examination, the fetus is seen by abdominal ultrasound.

Occasionally the view is not clear and it may be necessary to perform a vaginal scan.

First trimester ultrasonic scans may show 'soft' markers for chromosomal abnormalities, such as an increased fetal nuchal translucency (back of the neck) to enable detection of Down's syndrome fetuses.

The test is performed between 11 weeks and 13 weeks 6 days into your pregnancy.

Charts have been developed for this purpose, but some simple rules of thumb can also be effectively used.

From 6 to 11 weeks gestational age, the fetal CRL grows at a rate of about 1 mm per day.

If you are unsure of your period dates or have an irregular cycle, we suggest that you contact your doctor, midwife or health care provider as early as possible to arrange for a dating scan.

If this is the case and this creates some concern then the scan can be repeated a week later.

Accuracy of CRL after 12 weeks in predicting gestational age diminishes and is replaced by measurement of the width of the fetal head (biparietal diameter or BPD).

The nuchal translucency (also spelled nucal translucency) is a collection of fluid beneath the fetal skin in the region of the fetal neck and this is present and seen in all fetuses in early pregnancy.

The 12 week scan is a routine ultrasound examination carried out at 10 to 14 weeks of gestation.

At the first trimester scan they confirm that the fetus is alive, they assess the gestational age by measuring the crown-rump length and will also look for any major problems.

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