Comprehensive Fetal Ultrasound
Fetal ultrasound is an imaging technique that uses sound waves to produce a fetus’s image in the uterus.
What is a fetal ultrasound for?
Fetal ultrasound images allow health care providers to monitor your pregnancy, evaluate your baby’s growth and development, and assess possible problems or help confirm a diagnosis.
- The first fetal ultrasound is usually done during the 1st trimester. This visit will confirm your pregnancy.
- If your pregnancy remains uncomplicated, the second ultrasound is often done during the 2nd trimester.
- A follow-up ultrasound or additional imaging tests (MRIs) may be recommended if any problems are suspected.
What are the types of ultrasounds?
The two main types of fetal ultrasounds are:
- Transvaginal – the transducer (a wand-like device) is placed in the vagina.
- Transabdominal – the transducer is moved over the abdomen.
Transvaginal ultrasounds are used most often during early pregnancy. They may also be done if a transabdominal ultrasound did not provide enough information.
Transabdominal ultrasounds are available in various forms. These types include:
- 3D ultrasound is similar to regular ultrasound, except that it adds a 3rd plane (the coronal plane) to give a three-dimensional image of the structure of interest. This type of ultrasound can be used to aid in the diagnosis of certain defects.
- Specialized sonographic evaluation, which is used when a fetal abnormality is suspected or known.
- Fetal echocardiography, which provides a detailed picture of the baby’s heart, may be used to rule out or confirm a congenital heart defect.
- Doppler ultrasound, which measures slight changes in the ultrasound waves as they bounce off moving objects such as blood cells, can provide details about a baby’s blood flow.
What is the difference between 2D, 3D, and 4D ultrasound?
- A 2D ultrasound provides the traditional black and white sonogram image of the fetus.
- 3D ultrasound will give you an actual three-dimensional color photograph, and you will be able to see vivid details such as facial features and movements.
- A 4D ultrasound provides an actual moving, video-like image of your baby.
At Unity Maternal Fetal Medicine, we use General Electric’s Voluson E10 ultrasound machine to provide patients with a comprehensive fetal ultrasound. This state-of-the-art device has 2D, 3D, and 4D imaging capabilities.
If your pregnancy has associated risk factors, a comprehensive fetal ultrasound will be necessary.