One of the most common procedures done at our office is the ultrasound exam. Ultrasound scanning involves the use of a hand held probe (called a transducer) that sends out sound waves of a very high frequency, but very low power. These sound waves bounce off of structures and are reflected back to provide a picture of pelvic structures in a gyn patient or a baby in an ob patient. Structures must be imaged by filling the bladder, pushing the intestines out of the pelvis, thereby providing a clear "sonic window." The weight of the patient and/or position of the fetus can affect the quality of the image.
There are many reasons an ultrasound might be ordered by your doctor during the pregnancy. In our practice an ultrasound is ordered on the first visit to confirm viability and establish a definite due date. Another ultrasound is frequently ordered at about 20 weeks. The primary focus of the 20 week ultrasound is to evaluate fetal anatomy, such as the heart, the brain, and the spine. Other information such as placental location, amount of amniotic fluid, and fetal activity can also be assessed. Many, although not all, birth defects can be seen. At present there are no known risks to the baby or the mother with an ultrasound exam. Please remember that this is a medical diagnostic test, so ultrasounds are not ordered without indications.
During a gynecological ultrasound, the uterus and the ovaries can be seen and measured. Pelvic masses can usually be seen. Ultrasound is only a tool to help make more educated decisions about a problem. It sometimes cannnot provide a definite diagnosis. Further testing may be required to make a definitive diagnosis. Gynecological ultrasound employs the use of a transvaginal transducer in order to obtain the best possible image. This is usually no more uncomfortable than a routine pelvic exam.
What is "4D"/"4D Ultrasound"?
"4D" is shorthand for "four-dimensional"- the fourth dimension being time. As far as ultrasound is concerned, 4D Ultrasound is the latest ultrasound technology. 4D Ultrasound takes three-dimensional ultrasound images and adds the element of time to the process. The result: Live Action images of your unborn child.
What are the advantages of the 4D technology?
In contrast to other 3D imaging diagnostic processes, 4D allows your doctor to visualize internal anatomy moving in real-time. For example: Movement patterns of fetuses allows conclusions to be drawn about their development; increase of accuracy in ultrasound guided biopsies thanks to the visualization of needle movements in real time in all 3 planes. So physicians and sonographers can detect or rule out any number of issues, from vascular anomalies and genetic syndromes.
Are there any risks related to 3D or 4D ultrasound?
No. 3D and 4D Ultrasound both utilize sound waves to look inside the body. The technology is similar to radar. A probe placed on the body emits sound waves into the body, listens for the return echo and generates an image.
Does a 4D Ultrasound exam take longer than a traditional ultrasound exam?
No. Even though a 4D Ultrasound exam employs slightly different technology, you should not anticipate a longer exam.