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3D Ultrasounds Q & A

How is a 3D ultrasound different from a standard 2D ultrasound or a Doppler ultrasound?

In a 2D ultrasound, the transducer wand is moved over the belly to send sound waves through the body. Those sound waves bounce off the patient’s internal organs, and those echoes are then converted into a 2D picture of the developing baby. In a Doppler ultrasound, a hand-held device will amplify the noise of the baby’s heartbeat. 

In a 3D ultrasound, many different 2D images are captured at varied angles around the patient’s abdomen. Those images are then combined to create a 3D image. A 3D ultrasound allows the provider and the parents to see not just a side profile of the baby’s face and body, but a 3D image of the whole baby. It produces a picture with greater detail and looks more like a traditional photo than a 2D ultrasound picture.

Why are 3D ultrasounds needed?

This advanced imaging technology allows your provider a more detailed perspective on the development of the fetus. 3D ultrasounds can give your caring team at Prescott Women’s Clinic a closer look at suspected anomalies, like cleft lip or spinal cord problems. If the patient is in a high-risk group during pregnancy, a 3D ultrasound may be recommended. 

2D and doppler ultrasounds can check on the fetus, look at amniotic fluid, look at birth defects, and check for other issues quite effectively in most cases. But since 3D ultrasounds use more advanced technology, they are not often used in routine prenatal exams.

Is a 3D ultrasound safe for the baby?

According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), there isn’t any reliable documented evidence that ultrasounds cause harm to a developing baby. However, the long-term effects of ultrasounds are uncertain, so they should be used sparingly and only when recommended by your specialist. 

It’s very important that expectant moms avoid non-medical ultrasounds from providers unless they’re highly trained and working under the supervision of one of the trusted specialists at Women’s Health Arizona. Ultrasounds are done only when needed, and the ultrasound sessions are kept brief to minimize any possible risk to the baby. Your provider will try to keep the ultrasound exposure to around 15 minutes, to be as safe as possible for mom and baby.

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