Receiving ultrasounds during pregnancy is a practical way for woman and their families to observe the changes in fetuses as they take place. Obstetric ultrasounds are also an important monitoring and diagnostic tool during a pregnancy, allowing obstetricians to check for abnormalities and conditions that may arise from early pregnancy right up until birth.
Unlike other screening procedures, ultrasounds do not use radiation, but instead rely on sound waves and echoes that can create images called sonograms. According to the American Pregnancy Association, “The long term effects of repeated ultrasound exposures on the fetus are not fully known,” although ultrasounds during pregnancy do not have a history of causing health risks.
The American Pregnancy Association notes that while there is not a specific number of ultrasounds needed, ultrasounds may be used for different purposes in the three trimesters. Individual health of the mother and fetus may call for further ultrasounds to rule out concerns or monitor conditions.
Ultrasounds allow obstetricians the opportunity to screen for a variety of conditions and risks that may affect fetuses. Procedures like Doppler monitoring, which uses ultrasonic sound waves to measure the heart rate and blood flow of a fetus, help assess health. Another type of ultrasound monitoring, electronic fetal monitoring, senses the baby’s heart rate and mother’s contractions.
Screening for Down syndrome can also be done using ultrasound during a nuchal translucency (NT) test, where the thickness of the baby’s neck is evaluated for signs of Down syndrome, in combination with a blood test. Second trimester anatomy scan ultrasounds thoroughly look for any concerns in organs like the heart and liver, and 3D ultrasounds can screen for additional conditions or risks if needed.
Ultrasounds reveal practical aspects about fetuses that help parents plan for an upcoming birth, like estimated delivery dates and the sex of the baby. Ultrasound imaging will also show where the placenta rests, indicating conditions such as placenta previa, which may cause physicians to recommend a c-section. Used as a dialogistic tool, ultrasounds can help physicians prepare women for safer births if complications are found in advance.
Ultrasounds present families with the opportunity to view a fetus long before its birth, and with advanced technology, sonograms are able to highlight a growing baby’s detailed features. Often these early portraits are saved, shared, and cherished for their intimate value. While offering significant information on fetal health, ultrasounds also act as a way for parents to connect with unborn babies as they emotionally transition into parenthood.
Via Radiology provides Seattle diagnostic imaging, offering services like ultrasound, MRI, CT scans, x-ray and other imaging modalities. We also provide interventional services and screening services, including screenings for lung cancer. Contact us online for more information.