The Benefits and Concerns Regarding 4D Ultrasonography

Ultrasound is a medical test that makes use of high frequency sound waves to produce an image of the insides of the body. Ultrasound can also be referred to as sonograms. Ultrasound is commonly used in pregnancy for the purpose of observing the fetus. The standard practice of ultrasound only produces an image in 2D. With this image, details concerning the baby’s development can be monitored. The baby’s gestational age can be determined and abnormalities as well, if there are any. The 2D imagery requires a trained professional due to the difficulty of identifying body parts and consequently, only indications of abnormality can be monitored. To further confirm a problem, the more advanced 4D ultrasound should be used.


In the procedure of 4D ultrasound, a specialized sonogram machine is used. Instead of a single plain, different angles of the baby can be shown in the images produced, showing detailed visualization of the baby’s facial features and body movements in real time. Though it is not specifically routinely prescribed for a pregnant woman to undergo 4D ultrasound, more and more people are still highly enthused due to the excitement of seeing their babies.


Typically, doctors are not the ones to entail an expecting mother to undertake the procedure. In most cases, the advice of doing so comes from physicians. They are the ones who conduct the procedure at a private ultrasound business that specializes with 4D ultrasounds. Through the procedure, examination of the baby is done in a considerably shorter time. The process starts with a conductive gel that is to be applied to the abdomen. Next, a transducer is glided over the part where the gel was applied. The machine then translates the sound waves inside to turn them into images that are view through a monitor. After the procedure is completed, the mother can have a picture or a video of the unborn child.


Despite the great benefit it provides in monitoring the health and condition of an unborn baby, 4D ultrasound has also been subjected to several concerns of harmful effects that it may inflict to the mother or the child. The concern is related to the quality perceived in the image processed. As it results to a high quality image, experts would say that it is probably due to the high level of energy that the ultrasound machine uses, which can be result to fatal effects in the pregnancy. Despite the debates, there is currently no concrete evidence that can prove its negative outcomes.


4D Ultrasound is a great opportunity for parents to see their babies even before birth, giving  sense of intimate bonding experience. In fact, according to some, studies, seeing an unborn baby can help alleviate a mother’s maternal anxiety and depression. Also, it enables the father to feel more involved to the pregnancy and have a stronger bond with the child. More diagnostics advantages of using 4D ultrasound include determining the age of the baby, evaluating the development of the baby, assessing multiple pregnancies, perceiving structural problems in the uterus, abnormalities of the placenta, irregular bleeding, verifying ectopic pregnancy, discovering ovarian tumor/fibroids and locating the placenta.


Desmond James, MD, is board certified in fetal-maternal medicine. He is true professional in the field of obstetrics and gynecology. Currently, he is a Professor of Surgery in the department of obstetrics and gynecology. His previous appointments include Section Head of Obstetrics and Maternal-Fetal Medicine and Vice Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

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