What is an obstetric ultrasound?
An obstetric ultrasound uses sound waves to create an image of the fetus, placenta and uterus. These sound waves are produced when the ultrasound technician runs the transducer lightly over the mother’s abdomen. It is not painful and there is no radiation involved. The sound waves make an image of the fetus and the internal organs. These images can be seen on the ultrasound monitor in real time.
When is an obstetric ultrasound used?
An obstetric ultrasound can examine the baby in the uterus and provide information including the age and anatomy of the fetus as well as the position, movement, breathing and heart rate. The sex of the fetus can often be determined as well. The placement of the placenta and the amount of amniotic fluid can also be seen. An obstetric ultrasound can show if there is more than one fetus and can also determine some birth defects or if further prenatal testing is necessary. An obstetric ultrasound can be performed at any time during a pregnancy to look at the fetus.
Obstetric ultrasound can be used for a fetal cardiogram to examine the heart of the fetus if there is a possible problem detected. And an obstetric ultrasound can also help find the cause of bleeding and/or pain.
3-D and 4-D ultrasounds can also be used in special situations.
What are the different types of obstetric ultrasounds?
A transabdominal ultrasound is when the transducer is placed on the abdomen; a transvaginal ultrasound is when the transducer is placed in the vagina; a Doppler ultrasound uses high intensity sound waves to listen to the baby’s heartbeat or to examine the movement of blood. Three-dimensional and four-dimensional ultrasounds are also available.