Fetal Pole

Definition - What does Fetal Pole mean?

The fetal pole is the earliest visual evidence of a developing fetus. The appearance of the fetal pole between 6-8 weeks of gestation indicates that the fetus is forming properly. The absence or malformation of a fetal pole may indicate a complication or abnormality of the pregnancy.

FertilitySmarts explains Fetal Pole

The term fetal pole refers to the embryonic development taking place in the uterus. The fetal pole will continue to develop into the fetus and eventually the fully formed infant. At the 5-6 week mark, the “pole” itself is typically curved, with the beginning of a head at one end and what resembles a tail at the other.

The fetal pole is first seen via ultrasound. A vaginal ultrasound may detect the fetal pole at the 5-6 weeks gestation, while an abdominal ultrasound can detect the fetal pole between 6-7 weeks. However, some fetal poles may not be seen until 8-9 weeks gestation. Once located, the fetal pole may be measured to provide a more accurate insight as to the exact gestational age.

If no fetal pole is seen during imaging, a provider may request another follow up scan. A positive pregnancy test with the absence of a fetal pole may indicate several situations:

  • Ectopic Pregnancy
  • Blighted Ovum
  • Miscarriage
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