What is the Purpose of an Ultrasound?
Ultrasound is used to help refine and diagnose certain structural aspects of the fetus within its mother’s uterus (womb). Obstetrical ultrasound has become a standard part of prenatal care. Obstetricians routinely use ultrasound imaging to check the size, location, number, or age of fetuses in the womb, the presence of certain types of birth defects, volume of amniotic fluid and fetal movement, breathing, and heartbeat. Our ultrasound machines are 3D and 4D capable, and our ultrasonographers have advanced training and expertise in perinatal ultrasound. Ultrasound imaging involves the use of a small transducer and gel that is placed over the maternal abdomen, which then emits inaudible sound waves to render an image of the fetus and its surrounding structures, such as amniotic fluid amount and placenta. The procedure is painless for both the mother and fetus and helps our team to evaluate your baby’s growth and development and monitor your pregnancy.
What are the Different Types of Ultrasound Technology?
Traditional ultrasound scanning is 2D, sending and receiving ultrasound waves in just one plane. This is what provides the traditional black and white images that many people associate with an ultrasound. However, ultrasound technology has evolved, with two additional types of ultrasound now available. At NJPA, all of our up-to-date ultrasound machines are capable of performing all three imaging techniques.
3D Ultrasound in New Jersey
While standard obstetrical ultrasound mode uses 2D scanning, 3D ultrasound is a relatively new technique that provides a three-dimensional image of the fetus. This allows the ultrasonographer to see aspects such as height, width, and depth of the fetal anatomy and may improve the examination of a suspected fetal anomaly. For example, 3D ultrasounds can be used to help detect facial abnormalities or neural tube defects. During a 3D ultrasound, multiple two-dimensional images are taken at various angles. These images are then pieced together to form a three-dimensional image of your baby. While a 2D ultrasound gives you a profile view of your baby’s face, a 3D rendering will allow you to see the entire surface.
4D Ultrasound at NJPA
4D ultrasound is similar to 3D ultrasound with the addition of time – you can visualize your baby’s body movements in real-time on a screen as opposed to still 2D or 3D images. 4D ultrasound offers the same benefits as 3D ultrasound, and also allows the physician to study the movement of organs of the baby’s body. 4D ultrasounds are typically only used if there is a specific medical reason to do so, and should only be performed when medically necessary by trained medical professionals.
What Can I Expect During My Ultrasound in NJ?
Ultrasound imaging involves the use of a small transducer and gel that is placed over the maternal abdomen, which then emits inaudible sound waves to render an image of the fetus and its surrounding structures, such as amniotic fluid amount and placenta. Ultrasound has NO radiation and is safe. The procedure is painless for both the mother and fetus and helps our team to evaluate your baby’s growth and development and monitor your pregnancy.
You should not experience any pain during your ultrasound, though you may feel pressure while the sonographer presses the probe to your belly. This is not harmful to you or your baby. The test usually takes about 30 minutes – 60 minutes to complete, depending on the type of evaluation being performed.
Are Ultrasounds Safe?
Current evidence indicates that diagnostic ultrasound (2D, 3D, and 4D) is safe for both the mother and her developing fetus. As ultrasound uses sound waves, it is not radiation (like x-rays and CT scans, for example) and therefore the known risks of repeated radiation exposure do not apply. We utilize the ALARA principle in keeping exposures as low as possible, and obstetrical ultrasounds are not performed repeatedly unless they are medically indicated.
There do exist some facilities that will perform non-medical ultrasounds to determine fetal gender and provide “keepsake” photos. It is important to understand that the FDA discourages the use of obstetrical ultrasound for non-medical purposes such as fetal keepsake videos and photos. We know that many patients want pictures of their baby’s face, bodies, hands, or feet as mementos. We do our best to get those images for you, as time and individual situations such as your baby’s position and maternal habitus permit.