Ultrasound of the Fetus
A fetal ultrasound (sonogram) is an imaging technique that uses sound waves to supply images of a fetus within the uterus. Fetal ultrasound images can help your health care provider evaluate your baby’s growth and development and monitor your pregnancy. In some cases, fetal ultrasound is employed to gauge possible problems or help confirm a diagnosis.
The first fetal ultrasound is typically done during the primary trimester to verify the pregnancy and estimate how long you have been pregnant. If your pregnancy remains uncomplicated, subsequent ultrasound is usually offered during the trimester, when anatomic details are visible. If a drug is suspected, a follow-up ultrasound or additional imaging tests, like an MRI, could be recommended.
There are two main sorts of fetal ultrasound exams:
- Transvaginal ultrasound. With this sort of fetal ultrasound, a wandlike device called a transducer is placed in your vagina to send sound waves and gather the reflections. Transvaginal ultrasounds are used most frequently during early pregnancy. this sort of ultrasound also could be done if a transabdominal ultrasound didn’t provide enough information.
- Transabdominal ultrasound. A transabdominal fetal ultrasound is completed by moving a transducer over your abdomen.
- Various other sorts of transabdominal ultrasounds are available, including:
- Specialized sonographic evaluation. this sort of exam could be needed in specific circumstances, like when a fetal abnormality is understood or suspected. during this situation, a more detailed evaluation can provide additional information about the abnormality.
- 3D ultrasound. This exam provides a two-dimensional display of three-dimensional data. this sort of ultrasound is usually wont to help health care providers detect facial abnormalities or ectoderm defects.
- Doppler ultrasound. A Doppler ultrasound measures slight changes within the ultrasound waves as they bounce off moving objects, like blood cells. It can provide details of a few baby’s blood flow.
- Fetal echocardiography. This exam provides an in-depth picture of a baby’s heart. it’d be wont to confirm or rule out a congenital heart defect.
What are the Symptoms
The first-trimester ultrasound examination is completed to gauge the presence, size, and site of the pregnancy, determine the number of fetuses and estimate how long you have been pregnant (gestational age). Ultrasound also can be used for trimester screening, also as screening for abnormalities of your uterus or cervix.
In the second or trimester, a typical ultrasound is completed to gauge several features of the pregnancy, including fetal anatomy. This exam is usually done between weeks 18 and 20 of pregnancy. However, the timing of this ultrasound could be altered for reasons like obesity, which could limit the visualization of the fetus.
During the second and third trimesters, limited ultrasound evaluation could be needed when a selected question requires investigation. Examples include the evaluation of fetal growth and therefore the estimation of amnionic fluid volume. A specialized or detailed exam is completed when an anomaly is suspected supported your history or other prenatal exam results.
Your health care provider might use a fetal ultrasound to:
- Confirm the pregnancy and its location. Some fetuses develop outside of the uterus, within the Fallopian tube. A fetal ultrasound can help your health care provider detect a pregnancy outside of the uterus (ectopic pregnancy).
- Determine your baby’s fetal age. Knowing the baby’s age can help your health care provider determine your maturity and track various milestones throughout your pregnancy.
- Confirm the number of babies. If your health care provider suspects multiple pregnancies, an ultrasound could be done to verify the number of babies.
- Evaluate your baby’s growth. Your health care provider can use an ultrasound to work out whether your baby is growing at a traditional rate. Ultrasound is often wont to monitor your baby’s movement, breathing, and pulse.
- Study the placenta and amnionic fluid levels. The placenta provides your baby with vital nutrients and oxygen-rich blood. an excessive amount of or insufficient amnionic fluid — the fluid that surrounds the baby within the uterus during pregnancy — or complications with the placenta need special attention. An ultrasound can help evaluate the placenta and amnionic fluid around the baby.
- Identify birth defects. An ultrasound can help your health care provider screen for a few birth defects.
- Investigate complications. If you’re bleeding or having other complications, an ultrasound might help your health care provider determine the cause.
- Perform other prenatal tests. Your health care provider might use ultrasound to guide needle placement during certain prenatal tests, like amniocentesis or villus sampling.
- Determine fetal position before delivery. Most babies are positioned headfirst by the top of the trimester . that does not always happen, though. Ultrasound imaging can confirm the baby’s presentation so that your health care provider can discuss options for delivery.
- Fetal ultrasound should be done just for valid medical reasons. Fetal ultrasound isn’t recommended only to work out a baby’s sex. Similarly, fetal ultrasound isn’t recommended solely for the aim of manufacturing keepsake videos or pictures.
If your health care provider does not imply a fetal ultrasound but you want the reassurance an ultrasound can provide, share your wishes with your care provider so that you’ll work together to work out what’s best for you and your baby.