FTS Testing

The radiologists at our clinic in Orléans, Ottawa perform FTS Testing to detect whether a baby may be at risk for chromosomal conditions such as Down syndrome or trisomy 18, and help put your mind at ease.

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FTS Testing, Ottawa

What is FTS Testing?

Pregnancy is a time of wonder - and for most parents, a little bit of worry. As the new life inside of mom's womb grows, lots of planning is taking place to prepare for baby. 

In the face of so many unknowns, we can help address some of your concerns by administering an FTS test (first-trimester screening test) to learn whether your baby may be at risk for certain chromosomal conditions, including Down Syndrome or Edwards Syndrome (trisomy 18). 

The FTS Testing Process

This valuable tool is also referred to as a first-trimester combined test and involves taking a blood test and ultrasound exam. This procedure can be done earlier than most other prenatal screening tests and can offer a valuable assessment of growth, viability and anatomy.

An FTS test will allow you and your healthcare team more time to make informed, proactive decisions.

Because this is a screening test, any abnormal results will be followed by further diagnostic tests. You will also be able to make decisions about the course of your pregnancy and work with your healthcare team to develop a treatment and management plan for any conditions during and after delivery.

  • Prospective parents are sometimes nervous about the health of the fetus growing inside mom. This is understandable and very normal. Our radiology team can work collaboratively with your healthcare team to identify and address any concerns and offer support every step of the way.
    - Dr. Griffith Jones

Patient Preparation

Here is what you can expect during each phase of the process, in addition to details on what to bring with you to your appointment.

  • Before The Test

    You can begin to mentally prepare for an FTS test when considering whether to have it done. Think about what the results will mean for you - because this test only detects your baby's risk of having Down syndrome, not whether he or she actually has the condition, is it worth any anxiety the results may cause?

    Depending on the results of the test, would you plan on managing your pregnancy differently? Discuss with your doctor and healthcare team which level of risk would be necessary before having more follow-up tests done.

    Physically, you won't need to do anything special to prepare. You may eat and drink normally prior to both the blood test and the ultrasound exam.

  • During The Test

    The FTS test is not painful. It has two steps, including a blood test to measure levels of pregnancy-specific substances in a mother's blood (PAPP-A or pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A and HCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin). 

    The radiologist will then perform an ultrasound exam to measure the size of the clear space in the tissue located at the back of your baby's neck (nuchal translucency). 

    For the blood test, a blood sample will be taken when a needle is inserted into a vein in your arm. The sample will then be analyzed in the lab. 

    During the ultrasound exam, you'll be asked to lie on your back on the exam table while an ultrasound technologist moves a transducer over your abdomen. Sound waves are reflected and sent back through the transducer to the computer, which converts the data into digital images on a monitor. 

    These images will then be used to measure the size of the clear space in the tissue at the back of your baby's neck.

    The results of the blood test and the ultrasound, combined with your age, can help the radiologist assess your risk of carrying a baby with Down syndrome or trisomy 18. Other factors, such as a previous pregnancy with Down syndrome, can also impact your risk.

  • After The Test

    After the test, you can return to your normal activities immediately.

  • Results

    Test results will take about a week to come back. FTS test results are given as a positive or negative, in addition to a probability score such as 1 in 250 risk that you may be carrying a baby with Down syndrome.

    The test detects up to 98 percent of pregnancies with Down syndrome and up to 95% of pregnancies with trisomy 18. Up to 5 percent of women will have a false-positive result, meaning that the test comes back positive but the baby doesn't actually have Down syndrome. 

    While a high-risk result doesn't guarantee your baby will be born with one of the conditions, a low-risk result does not guarantee that your baby will be born without these conditions.

    If results show that your risk of having a baby with Down syndrome or trisomy 18 is moderate or high, you may choose to have a more definitive follow-up test done.


FTS Testing FAQs

Read the answers to our most frequently asked questions about FTS testing at Premier Imaging.

  • Why would I need FTS testing?

    The FTS test is administered by one of our skilled radiologists and is recommended for pregnant women of any age who are seeking information about the health of their pregnancy in its early stages. Though serious chromosomal abnormalities are more commonly associated with pregnancies in women who are 35 and older, they can happen at any age. 

    By administering an FTS test, we can assess your risk of carrying a baby with Down syndrome and obtain information about the risk of trisomy 18.  

    People with Down syndrome have lifelong mental and social impairments in development, as well as numerous physical concerns. Delays caused by trisomy 18 are more severe and the condition is often fatal by age 1. 

  • When should FTS testing be done?

    The screening is typically done between weeks 11 and 14 of pregnancy - earlier than most other prenatal screening tests, which means you, your doctor and healthcare team will have results early.  

  • What are the benefits and risks of FTS testing?

    This optional early prenatal screening gives you more time to decide whether more diagnostic tests are needed and make proactive choices about the course of your pregnancy, in addition to planning for medical treatment and management during and after delivery.

    If your baby is at higher risk of Down syndrome, this also allows you more time to prepare for the possibility of caring for a child with special needs.

    This routine prenatal screening test cannot lead to any risk of pregnancy complications, such as miscarriage.

  • What happens next if the risk of conditions is detected?

    Test results from FTS screening indicate only whether your baby would be at increased risk of Down syndrome or trisomy 18, not whether the baby actually has one of these conditions.

    You may choose to have additional screening tests done later in your pregnancy, such as the quad screen which is usually done between weeks 15 and 20 of pregnancy. This test can assess a baby's risk for Down syndrome or trisomy 18 in addition to neural tube defects, including spina bifida.

    Sometimes, an FTS test is combined with the quad screen. In this case, it's referred to as integrated screening and can improve the probability of successfully detecting whether your baby would be at risk for Down syndrome. 

  • What are the limitations of FTS Testing?

    An FTS test does not evaluate the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida.

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