/How to Use Ultrasound in Pregnancy

How to Use Ultrasound in Pregnancy

Pregnancy ultrasound is an awesome technology. With ultrasound, you get to see your baby even before he is a baby. There is no known risk to you or your baby from ultrasound during pregnancy.

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Ultrasound in Pregnancy

Ultrasound machines use high-pitched sound waves (250 times higher-pitched than can be heard by the human ear), transmitted through the abdominal wall to produce an echo image of your pelvis. By moving the transducer (the ultrasound transmitter) appropriately, different areas of anatomy, along with your baby, in the pelvis can be seen during pregnancy.

The ultrasound technician may use a slender transducer in the vagina to visualize the uterus more easily if it is very early in your pregnancy. Ultrasound conducting gel will be placed on the lower abdomen for your ultrasound when you are further along in your pregnancy.

Image of ultrasound in pregnancyThe amount of useful information gained from a pregnancy ultrasound examination depends on several factors. During a pregnancy ultrasound examination, you can see if you are having multiples or twins, which way the baby is positioned in the uterus, the location of the placenta, fetal heart and limb motion, and the amount of amniotic fluid.

The most amazing parts of the pregnancy ultrasound are seeing your little baby's heart beat, the individual hair on her head, her rapid movements or kicks, and her profile. If you want to know the sex of your baby, you can see that too, usually at 18-20 weeks.

3D ultrasound, often used in pregnancy, actually generates 3D pictures of your baby. Your doctor may even view your pregnancy with 3D ultrasound in her office!

No one knows the long-term effects of ultrasound use. Many practitioners feel that the technology is perfectly safe since studies of babies and their mothers have not determined any effects. Other practitioners are not so convinced of ultrasound safety and feel that judicious use is advised.

It should be remembered that x-rays were in use for 50 years before the public became aware of detrimental effects. DES and thalidomide alsso were deemed safe and were later found to be the cause of cancer, sterility and anomalies.Possibly the greatest risk of overuse of ultrasound technology is that if an ultrasound raises a question of fetal well-being, high and invasive risk procedures and technologies may be instituted which do have clear risks to the mother or her baby.

When Using Ultrasound, is There a Risk of Harm?


Non-diagnostic ultrasound has demonstrated biological effects such as cell heating or cavitational activities and thermal effects using animals and plants. Diagnostic ultrasound uses far lower intensities. The current epidemiologic data finds no adverse outcomes from ultrasound use.


They claim that in order to pay for the equipment, physicians will order unnecessary ultrasounds. They claim that in order to pay for the equipment, physicians will order unnecessary ultrasounds.

Diagnostic Ultrasound In Pregnancy – Is It Necessary?

The journal, Obstetrics and Gynecology, estimated that over half of all pregnant women in 1990 had undergone diagnostic ultrasound, yet research published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggest that 80 percent of all pregnant women are very low risk and do not need ultrasounds. The unnecessary ultrasounds cost about $1 Billion per year.

Any woman who is told she needs an ultrasound should ask about the potential benefits of the test and the risks of the procedure. If the result of the ultrasound will not affect her care, she may question the need for the test at all.


According to the ACOG patient education flier, “Ultrasound is not necessary for every woman or in every pregnancy.” It is, however, being used more often as a standard procedure for every pregnant woman. Some common uses include diagnosing and detecting ectopic or uterine pregnancy, noting pelvic inflammatory disease, cysts, tumors uterine cancer, endometriosis and congenital abnormalities.

Ultrasound may compare fetal age and weight, note the placement of the placenta, amount of amniotic fluid that is present and diagnose certain birth defects such as neural tube defects. Ultrasound is used during an amniocentesis to verify the baby's position to be sure that the needle is placed properly. Some physicians use ultrasound for estimating the fetal weight.

Ultrasounds are frequently used to date pregnancies. According to Otto and Platt, 1991, in the first trimester the error range is +5 days, in the second trimester it increases to +8 days and if done in the final trimester it is +22 days.

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