New Zealand Obstetric Ultrasound Guidelines

Published online: 
13 December 2019
New Zealand Obstetric Ultrasound Guidelines.


In 2017 the National Maternity Monitoring Group endorsed the recommendations of the Maternity Ultrasound Advisory Group (MUAG) to improve the quality and accessibility of primary maternity ultrasounds.

The New Zealand Obstetric Ultrasound Guidelines (the Guideline) have been developed by a working group of expert clinicians with support from the Ministry. There has also been consultation with the sector with feedback consolidated into the final document.

The Guideline has been designed for use by health professionals such as radiographers/sonographers, radiologists, obstetric doctors, midwives and general practitioners.

The remaining MUAG recommendations will be implemented through the Whole of Maternity System Action Plan 2019–2023.

Read the Guideline

Key points from the Guideline

  • The following screening examinations are part of routine primary maternity care in New Zealand and should be offered to all women:
    • 12–13-week scan
    • 19+ week anatomy scan.
  • Routine ultrasound should not be offered or requested to confirm an ongoing early pregnancy in the absence of any clinical concerns, symptoms or specific indications.
  • The first ultrasound of the pregnancy should ideally be offered when the gestational age is thought to be between 12 and 13+6-weeks’ gestation, for optimal assessment of fetal anatomy and nuchal translucency (NT). The purpose of this scan is to confirm viability and the number of fetuses, accurately establish gestational age, evaluate gross fetal anatomy and if requested, assess the NT as part of the risk assessment for aneuploidy.
  • The second trimester anatomy scan is a routine screening examination, which should be offered to all women. Dating should be based on earlier scans, if available. The pregnancy should not be dated at the anatomy scan unless this is the first scan or there is no information available.
  • Specific clinical indications for examination other than the two screening scans listed above require an appropriate clinical code.
  • Unless clinically determined, growth scans in the third trimester are not usually required.
  • Any ultrasound scan that a woman is referred for should clearly note the appropriate clinical code and clinical indication. Ultrasound for the purpose of obtaining souvenir images of the fetus is not appropriate and is not funded publicly.

The Ministry recognises the considerable work that has gone into the completion of these guidelines and is grateful to all the contributors for their expertise and time.

Publishing information

  • Date of publication:
    13 December 2019
  • ISBN:
  • HP number:
  • Citation:
    Ministry of Health. 2019. New Zealand Obstetric Ultrasound Guidelines. Wellington: Ministry of Health.
  • Ordering information:
    Only soft copy available to download
  • Copyright status:

    Owned by the Ministry of Health and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence.

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