FETAL ULTRASOUND DEFINITIONA fetal ultrasound (also known as a sonogram) is an imaging method that uses ultrasound waves to create images of your unborn baby inside the uterus. A fetal ultrasound can assist your doctor in evaluating your baby's development and growth. It can also help show how well the pregnancy is progressing.
FETAL ULTRASOUND PURPOSEA fetal ultrasound is beneficial for monitoring fetal development. It can also be done at any point during the pregnancy. Your doctor may use a sonogram in order to evaluate your baby's growth, determine the number of babies, determine your baby's gestational age, confirm the pregnancy and its location, spot birth defects, determine a baby's gender (a bonus benefit that's not recommended as a sole reason for ultrasound), and so forth.
FETAL ULTRASOUND RISKSThe mother and baby are perfectly safe during routine fetal ultrasounds. However, the sonogram does have limitations. For example, not all birth defects can be detected by this imaging method. There's also the risk of incorrectly diagnosing a birth defect that's not actually there.
FETAL ULTRASOUND PREPARATION REQUIREDYou'll be asked to refrain from urinating before the exam. You may also be told to drink a certain amount of fluid prior to your sonogram. This all depends on what specific type of fetal ultrasound is going to be used. Ask your doctor for specific instructions when scheduling your ultrasound.
FETAL ULTRASOUND PROCEDUREThere are different types of sonogram. They all involve you being placed in a bed or examination table while a transducer is used to create the ultrasound images.
There's the standard ultrasound (involves moving a transducer over your abdomen), transvaginal ultrasound (a slender transducer is placed inside the vagina), specialized or targeted ultrasound (uses more sophisticated equipment), 3D ultrasound (provides photo-quality images of the baby), Doppler ultrasound (uses the Doppler Effect) and fetal echocardiography (provides a detailed image of the baby's heart).
FETAL ULTRASOUND COMPLICATIONSThere are no complications related to ultrasound. However, improperly using it cannot be considered entirely risk-free. Due caution is advised.
FETAL ULTRASOUND SIDE EFFECTSThere are no known side effects associated with fetal ultrasound.
FETAL ULTRASOUND RESULTSUsually, a sonogram provides reassurance that the fetus is maturing and developing normally (barring the detection of birth defects and the like). If there are possible problems or if your doctor wants to confirm a diagnosis, he'll take note of these issues on the results. Additional testing may be recommended depending on the fetal ultrasound's outcome.