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 some 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 mother and fetus.
While standard obstetrical ultrasound mode uses 2D scanning, 3D ultrasound is a relatively new technique which provides a three dimensional image of the fetus. This allows one to see aspects such as height, width and depth of the fetal anatomy and may improve the examination of a suspected fetal anomaly.
4D ultrasound is similar to 3D ultrasound with the addition of time – you can visualize your fetus’ body movements in real time on a screen as opposed to the still 2D or 3D images. All of our up-to-date ultrasound machines are capable of performing all three imaging techniques.
Current evidence indicates that diagnostic ultrasound (2D, 3D and 4D) is safe for both 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. That being said, obstetrical ultrasounds are not performed repeatedly unless they are medically indicated.
There do exist some facilities that will perform non-medical ultrasounds for the purpose of determining fetal gender and providing “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 permit.