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Viable Pregnancy

Last Updated: February 6, 2020

Definition - What does Viable Pregnancy mean?

A viable pregnancy is a pregnancy that is progressing normally with all laboratory, ultrasound, and physical findings indicating the positive likelihood of giving birth to a live baby.

There are many indicators practitioners look for to assess the healthy growth of a fetus, especially in early pregnancy including the presence of an embryo with the gestational sac, length of the embryo, and the presence of a heartbeat.

In contrast, a non-viable pregnancy indicates there is no chance of live birth.

FertilitySmarts explains Viable Pregnancy

There are precise guidelines used to assess the viability of a pregnancy to ensure the pregnancy is progressing normally with healthy fetal development and has the potential to result in a live birth. Diagnostic factors in determining a nonviable pregnancy include:

  1. A crown-rump length of 7 mm or greater with no heartbeat
  2. A mean sac diameter of 25 mm or greater and no embryo
  3. No heartbeat at 2 or more weeks after a scan that showed a gestational sac without a yolk sac
  4. No heartbeat 11 or more days after a scan that showed a gestational sac with a yolk sac

These guidelines become especially important in assessing the health of a pregnancy in women who have suffered recurrent miscarriages or have a history of ectopic pregnancy.

If miscarriage or other abnormalities are not of concern, in the case of a normally progressing pregnancy the term "viable pregnancy" may be used to describe a fetus that has developed in the uterus to the point that should it be born, the baby would stand a reasonable chance of survival outside the uterus. In most cases, this fetal age of viability is 24 weeks and 0 days of pregnancy.

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