This article provides some information about prenatal ultrasound imaging and its benefits, as well as about 3D and 4D imaging.
Prenatal ultrasound imaging is the use of ultrasound scans during pregnancy. This facility was introduced in the late 1950s and since then this has been a very vital diagnostic tool in Obstetrics. It has been estimated that nearly 70% of the women in the United States have the prenatal ultrasound exams during their pregnancy. Ultrasound is also routinely used at 16 weeks to date the pregnancy from then on and also to check the development of the fetus.
Other than the fact that ultrasound is very important to check the growth and development of fetus, it also gives the opportunity to the parents to view their babies before they are born. The sensation that the parents would feel when they get the first glimpse of their fetal babies brings a fascinating reality and probably adds a new dimension to the parental experience of pregnancy and childbirth.
If one visits a health care center then there are many types of ultrasound imaging available which the doctor would choose from depending on the stage of pregnancy and the reason for conducting it:
- Standard Ultrasound
- Advanced Ultrasound
- Transvaginal Ultrasound
- Doppler Imaging
- Fetal Echocardiography
- 3D Prenatal Ultrasound
- 4D Prenatal Ultrasound
It is a painless examination that takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes. The pregnant woman has to lie on her back and a jet-like substance is applied on her belly to help improve the contact between the ultrasound transducer and the skin. The woman is also asked to have her bladder full during the examination as it helps improve the clarity of the image. The transducer passes inaudible high frequency waves into the body which is reflected back at different strengths and by both the anatomic features of both the mother and the fetus. The same transducer also receives the reflected sound which are reconstructed by a computer.
- First and foremost, this imaging helps in determining the age of the pregnancy and the due date.
- It also helps in determining whether the uterus is growing at the right speed and if not. Furthermore, it can also help pinpoint the issue that is causing the irregular growth of the uterus.
- It helps in examining the development of the baby along with other functions like breathing, heartbeat, excretion, and the body movement.
- The quantity of the amniotic fluid during the later stages of pregnancy is measured using this kind of imaging.
- Imaging of the limbs and spinal column to check the proper growth and formation along with imaging the development of the brain has been made possible.
- Detection of multiple pregnancies that is twins, triplets, or quadruplets has also been made possible.
- Birth defects such as missing limbs, gap in the spine, or malformations of the urinary tract is possible to detect. A special type of ultrasound known as echocardiography which images the flow of blood through the chambers of the heart and other major blood vessels of the fetus helps in the detection of the heart irregularities.
- Using ultrasound imaging, it can be determined if the fetus is especially large or is in an abnormal position or if the placenta is blocking the exit of the uterus. In such cases, it will be easier for the doctor to decide if a cesarean delivery is required.
- Moreover, it is also very important in prenatal surgery and also in the safe delivery of medications to the fetus.
3D Prenatal Ultrasound Imaging
The 3D type offers 3D images usually with photo quality details of the growing fetus. These ultrasound machines are available in selected medical centers and helps the health care providers analyze the images collected far better. They are similar to computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). 3D imaging also reduces the time that is required to conduct the exam.
4D Prenatal Ultrasound Imaging
In 4D imaging, the fetus can be seen to cry, yawn, swallow, blink, and perform intricate finger movements. The movements can be seen from mid pregnancy and become more common as the pregnancy advances.
Disclaimer: This HerHaleness article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.