Different types of pregnancy ultrasound

Ultrasound or sonogram is used commonly during pregnancy to check the growth and development of the baby inside the mother’s womb. It is non-invasive and painless, making it a safe procedure for both the mother and baby. It doesn’t use radiation, but high-frequency sound waves that pass well through water. Most parents agree to it to have an opportunity to see their child before delivery. Since it is a diagnostic procedure, it can detect abnormalities to be confirmed by further tests. Several types of ultrasound are given at different stages of pregnancy, which include the following.

Transvaginal Ultrasound

Also called dating scan, transvaginal ultrasound is given during early stages of pregnancy, at around 5 to 8 weeks. At this stage, standard abdominal ultrasound cannot be performed yet because images could be too small to be seen through the walls of the abdomen. As the name implies, transvaginal scanning is done using a small probe inserted into the vagina. Its primary purpose is to assess the woman’s reproductive system and confirm pregnancy. The probe is covered with a condom and lubricated first before used. The smallest details can be seen to estimate baby’s age and due date.

Transabdominal Ultrasound

Standard abdominal ultrasound is the commonly known ultrasound for pregnant women. Here, a transducer is moved around the belly to view various positions of the baby. The woman lies down on a bed and before the scan, a gel is applied over the tummy area for better contact between the transducer and skin. The sonographer may require the patient to drink a few glasses of water to fill the bladder for a better view of the baby. This type of ultrasound can check fetal activity, monitor baby’s growth, and estimate its weight, among other things.

3D and 4D Imaging

Using advanced computers, 3D images can be captured using the same technology as 2D transducer ultrasounds. Many parents opt for this type of ultrasound to have a printed keepsake of their baby prior to birth. 4D ultrasounds on the other hand are multi-dimensional. The baby’s yawn, beating heartbeat or thumb sucking can be captured. A clearer view of the baby’s facial features can also be seen.

Unfortunately, regardless of how technologically advanced an ultrasound may be, it cannot detect all developmental issues that may later affect the newborn. For instance, cerebral palsy is a debilitating condition affecting the brain which may lead to lifelong impairment. But it can be stopped in its tracks with early detection.

An ultrasound, on the other hand, cannot help with early detection as most of the causes that lead to cerebral palsy, such as serious infection or stop of the blood flow to the brain, are either invisible to state-of-the-art computer imaging or occur after pregnancy. If your little angel has been already diagnosed with the neurological condition, only a cerebral palsy lawyer can be of tremendous help in covering the medical bills.

Specialized Types

  • Fetal Echocardiography– this test is done to detect problems in the baby’s heartbeat or blood flow. It is typically done in the second trimester though not all women need it.
  • Doppler Ultrasound– this procedure offers visual or audible images of blood movements through the arteries, blood vessels and veins, through sound waves. The sound reflected could be used to determine blood flow problems.

Prenatal ultrasounds can help identify any potential problem during pregnancy and childbirth. They can save the lives of the mother and her child. While these are medical ultrasound scans ordered by your doctor, you can choose to have elective ultrasound scans as well. These are offered by private companies for purposes other than medical, so parents can confirm baby’s gender or have a high quality image print of the baby inside the womb. To book, just key in “elective ultrasound near me” in the search box.


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