TIFFA stands for Targeted Imaging for Foetal Anomalies. It is also commonly known as Anomaly Scan. As the name suggests, this scan is performed to understand if the baby is growing fine. It is usually performed around the 18th week of pregnancy, and it measures and reports a number of factors.
Is the TIFFA scan mandatory?
All pregnant women are informed about the scan, its purpose, and what it can and cannot detect. Thereafter, the decision is entirely hers. The woman’s consent is necessary for the scan to be performed.
There is technology available to produce both 2D and 3D images that may be black and white, or in colour. Different hospitals offer different facilities. Make sure to pick a hospital that fits what you want.
How is the TIFFA scan performed?
The sonographer applies a gel on the belly and moves a transducer over it to obtain images of the baby.
Please wear loose clothes and carry a water bottle to fill your bladder for the scan. There is no need to keep your tummy empty - you can eat a light meal before going.
What is the duration of the TIFFA scan?
It takes about 30-45 minutes.
What does the TIFFA scan measure or detect?
- The internal organs of the baby
- The amount of amniotic fluid surrounding the baby
- The amount of blood flow in the umbilical cord
- The position and shape of the placenta
- The position of the baby in the uterus
- The size of the baby compared to their gestational age
- Any signs of physical abnormalities or defects in the baby
One of the things that this detailed scan looks for are the organs of the baby like the heart, the brain, lungs and so on. This is done to understand if the organs are formed well and are functioning normally.
There are conditions like congenital heart defects, problems with the spinal cord and brain, hernia, gastroschisis - a condition in which the walls of the tummy do not form fully during pregnancy etc. If any of these problems are detected during the scan, your Ob/Gyn would ask you to go for further investigations like a Fetal 2D Echo (for cardiac issues).
The external organs of the baby
By the 18th week, your baby has begun rapid growth and several of his or her external features would have developed well. During the TIFFA scan, the technician would also pick up images of your baby external organs and check for the progress of the development of organs such as eyelids, lips, fingers and toes, ears etc. There are common problems like cleft lip that are detected during this scan. If there are any such findings, then the Ob/Gyn will prepare you for the next steps to be taken for the management of the findings.
Position of your placenta
The placenta plays a very important part in the nourishment of your baby. The position of the placenta is another factor that is examined during the TIFFA scan. Problems such as placenta previa can have a significant impact during delivery. Placenta previa is when the placenta is in a low position and can be of three types:
-Partial, when the placenta covers just a part of the cervix.
-Marginal, when the placenta is on the edge of the cervix.
-Total, when the placenta completely covers the cervix
This condition could result in bleeding during and after the delivery, which is why, detecting this is critical to have a smooth delivery.
Which Abnormalities Can Be Seen on the Scan?
Here’s a list, along with the likelihood of detection:
- Absence of the top of the head (anencephaly): 98 per cent
- Cleft lip: 75 per cent
- Abdominal defects
- Missing or very short limbs: 60 per cent
- Spinal defects: 90 per cent
- Major kidney problems: 84 per cent
- Chromosomal abnormalities: 95 per cent
- Major heart problems: 50 per cent
What Happens in Case a Problem is Detected
It depends on what is detected. If needed, other tests or scans may be recommended to understand the problem better. In case an anomaly is confirmed, the further course of action depends on its seriousness. Less serious anomalies may get better on their own. In case of serious anomalies, the family is provided with support, information about all the possible courses of action, including the termination of pregnancy, and the time to make a choice. The family’s choice is always respected.
Finding out about problems before birth helps plan post-birth treatment. This is especially beneficial in cases where surgery immediately after birth is likely to enhance the baby’s chance of recovery or survival.