Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The early pregnancy. Ultrasound scanning

Is ultrasound scanning harmful to my baby?

Ultrasound scanning has been used to study the foetus for many years. It emplys sound waves which are beyond the hearing range of humans. Studies have shown that at the frequency used, scanning is harmless and provides beneficial information about the foetus and its wellbeing. To date no adverse effects have been noted since the introduction of ultrasound scanning in the 1950's.

What is the purpose of an ultrasound scan? How often will my obstetrician perform a scan during my pregnancy?

Ultrasound scan will confirm the diagnosis of an early pregnancy by the finding of a gestational sac in the womb. The age of the foetus can be determined. This is particularly important when the periods are not regular. It will also indicate if the foetus is growing well, whether the foetus is structurally normal, the position and lie of the foetus. The recommended number is three, once in the early pregnancy, another at 11-14 weeks for the nuchal fold thickness, and the third at 20-24 weeks when a structural abnormality scan is performed. If the pregnancy is a high risk one, then serial scans should be done. Some obstetricians perform ultrasound scans at every visit and this is is also acceptable.

What is a 3D ultrasound scan and how does this differ from a 2D?

The conventional scan is a 2D scan. A 3D scan is volumetric and will show the foetus as a 3D picture. The features and external structures can be easily viewed with a 3D from 12 weeks onwards. The 3D scan is complementary to the 2D in function but may be more meaningful to you as 2D pictures are more difficult for you to visualise or comprehend.

What is a 4D and how does it differ from 3D?

4D scan is actually a 3D view but in motion. The foetus is viewed in the womb together with its motions in 3D. Sometimes the foetus can be seen sucking its fingers, yawning, swollowing the amniotic fluid, or blinking. 4D allows bonding and can be very meaningful to a mother to see her baby doing things in her womb!

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