Early Pregnancy Assessment

Women are referred to our Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit (EPAU) if they are experiencing bleeding and/or pain in early pregnancy. We see women who are more than six weeks pregnant when they are referred, but less than 12 weeks and six days.

The Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit (EPAU) is a nurse-led service which is supported by the Gynaecology Department and overseen by a specialist consultant.

We understand that this can be an extremely stressful and emotional time. Bleeding and/or pain in early pregnancy is not unusual and does not necessarily indicate a problem, but it should always be investigated. Our aim is to identify why you’re experiencing pain and/or bleeding. Our investigation will be led by a scan of your womb, which will be carried out in the Radiology Department.

Early pregnancy assessments

If you are referred to the EPAU, one of our specialist nurses will contact you by telephone to arrange an appointment. You are welcome to bring a partner or a close friend with you to the appointment. Please bear in mind that your visit will probably last for longer than an hour, so try to leave enough time.

It’s important that you have a full bladder for your scan. There are waters fountains in the EPAU and the Radiology Department but you may have to wait for a scan so please don’t overfill your bladder!

When you arrive at Harrogate District Hospital, please go directly to the EPAU, which is based on Nidderdale Ward on the first floor. The nurse will take a brief history and ask questions regarding your current pregnancy, any previous pregnancies, and your general health. You will then be taken for your scan. There are two options available depending on need:

  • General abdominal scan
  • Trans-vaginal (internal) scan. This is not usually uncomfortable and will not harm the pregnancy.

Once your scan is completed, you will return with the EPAU to discuss the results of your scan.

If your scan confirms a live pregnancy, you will be discharged. You will need to make an appointment at your GP surgery for ongoing antenatal care.

If your scan shows that you’ve had a miscarriage, the nurse will discuss the options available to you. You will be given all the time you need to make an informed decision.

If the scan shows you have an ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy growing outside the womb) you may need to have further tests. The options of management will be discussed with you.

Sometimes scans are inconclusive – this means it may not be possible to give you a definite answer on your first visit. It may be that it’s too early to see a heartbeat on the scan. In this situation, we may arrange for another scan and/or blood tests to look at the pregnancy hormone levels.

You will be kept fully informed throughout your care, but please feel free to ask any questions or discuss your concerns at any time.

Opening hours

Early pregnancy scans are carried out in the Radiology Department between 9am-2pm, Monday-Friday and Sundays.


The Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit is based on Nidderdale Ward on the first floor of Harrogate District Hospital.


We accept referrals from healthcare professionals for women experiencing bleeding and/or pain in early pregnancy. Self-referrals are only accepted from those with a history of recurrent miscarriage, previous ectopic or previous molar pregnancy.

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