Yolk sac missing in pregnancy but heartbeat present--meaning?

Hi, we’re going to have a baby–we certainly hope and pray.

Today we did an ultrasound. There were two things the doctor noticed that could be cause for concern, but only our regular ob-gyn can give us the full answers. Obviously, our case is unique, but if you could give some base info, that would be appreciated.

First off, the baby was in there, had a visible heartbeat (confirmed by the docs), was moving around a bit, and looked normal to my layman’s eyes.

Still, they found these two things and diagnosed my wife with “threatened abortion.”

  1. Subchorionic hemorrage. If you could help me out with the general meaning of this, thanks.

  2. No yolk sac visible. From my reading on the web, the yolk sac is easily seen on ultrasound and is a first sign of viability. If it’s not there, it’s a bad sign. But today they confirmed the heartbeat but couldn’t find the (usually easily seen!) yolk sac. Now, do I interpret it as

A. “We made it through the rain.” Since there’s a heartbeart now, don’t bother worrying much about it.

B. Not so fast. The yolk sac still has a small role to play, and/or it’s being missing is still a sign of potential trouble overall (statistical correlation).

Your information and prayers would be appreciated, thanks!

Subchorionic hemorrhage: sonographic diagnosis and clinical significance.

Subchorionic hemorrhage in first-trimester pregnancies: prediction of pregnancy outcome with sonography

Not a good thing but not assured that it’ll be aborted either.

See also

Thanks for the info. Re the yolk sac, what I have seen on the Net is close to the second case you gave. No yolk sac early means that bad things can happen later. But in our case we have already reached a higher stage (heartbeat), but the yolk sac can’t be seen. That is what is odd.

Good about the hemmorage not being too very serious.

Thanks again.

From what I’ve read recently (I’m 21 weeks along myself), “They” aren’t quite sure what the yolk sac is there for. There’s some evidence it’s needed for proper development of male genitals, but there may be other purposes for it. The only mentions of it in Lannart Nilsson and Lars Hamberger’s lastest edition of A Child Is Born are in two picture captions. One merely points out the presence of the yolk sac in the picture. The other says, “Suspended on the left [of the picture above], hanging like a balloon, is the yolk sac, which among other things may influence the development of the genitals.” Other sources say it “may” aid in formation of the digestive tube (at about week 2) or blood cell production (no week indicated).

This site even claims that the yolk sac is empty, although it doesn’t give much explanation beyond that. The author seems to think the yolk sac is merely an embryologic holdover from our egg-laying ancestors.

The yolk sac is also very tiny, and can easily be hidden by even a small fetus.

At this stage, the heartbeat is an excellent sign. If it were me, I’d certainly listen to what my doctors have to say about it, but don’t panic yet. If you’re concerned about the genital development matching the chromosomal gender, there is plenty of time to test for that, and ultrasounds can help determine whether there’s even a concern. If the baby is born with ambiguous gentials, there is much that can be done to help. But chances are very good that everything is fine.

Thank you, WhyNot. It sounds as though science has a way to go on understanding this matter.

Thank you for the encouragement.

My wife was told there was no yolk sac but there was a heartbeat and the pregnancy was “abnormal”. She was told to come back in two weeks for another ultra sound. This freaked us out. My wife was crying. I looked into the matter and it seemed from my online research that it was not possible to have a heartbeat (a growing fetus) without a yolk sac, because the sac is the only means of nourishment before it attaches itself to the placenta. Cells cannot divide without nourishment. However there really did seem like not a whole lot of info. I found a ton about there being a yolk sac but no heartbeat and that tended to usually be a bad sign. Anyway, those were the longest two weeks to wait. In the end all was fine. It seems the technician didn’t see the sac and it must have been hiding or bad equipment or just a bad technician who then really freaked us out and didn’t explain anythiing and you’re probably going through the same thing but just know that at least in our case (and the others I’ve seen online) all was fine.

Hi Sid, welcome to the Dope.

Aeschines’ thread was posted in 2005, so you may not get an answer from him.

There may be some zombie jokes (I hope so) because of the age of the revived thread.

Glad your outcome was positive.

Yep, all was fine with our daughter, too. She is six now. I had forgotten I’d written this post way back when…

I was wondering how I’d missed WhyNot’s big news!

Huh, I forgot I’d written that reply, three weeks ago!

Glad things worked out well for you, too.