I'm 16 weeks pregnant and as my triple blood test has given a high risk for Down's syndrome, I've been advised to have an amniocentesis. Why can't I have a nuchal scan instead?

A nuchal scan can only be performed between 11-14 weeks. Outside this range, it simply does not give an accurate risk prediction for Down's. So at 16 weeks, you are unfortunately too late for a nuchal scan. The only way of knowing for sure if your baby has Down's syndrome or not is to have an invasive test such as amniocentesis. Screening tests such as the triple test and nuchal scans only give a risk level that may guide you towards or away from invasive testing; they never give a definite answer.
Amniocentesis: Guiding the needle

First, to help the doctor be absolutely precise when inserting the needle, an ultrasound scanner is used to establish the exact position of the fetus and the placenta. Second a fine needle is inserted into the womb and into a pool of amniotic fluid.

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