All About the 3D Ultrasound

Baby McBride Ultrasound 28 Weeks (1)
Creative Commons License photo credit: Nogwater

One of the coolest advancements in prenatal technology over the past decade has been the advent of the 3D ultrasound. A traditional ultrasound gives you a two-dimensional picture of your baby, and it’s not always especially clear in early pregnancy what you’re looking at. 3D ultrasounds have given parents a more dynamic view of their baby, and can in some cases help doctors identify potential problems with the pregnancy.

How it works

With a traditional ultrasound, the ultrasound device sends sound waves down into your uterus and they’re reflected back. With a 3D ultrasound, those sound waves are sent in at several angles. A computer processes all of the echoes, and reconstructs them in a fairly accurate way. 3D ultrasound can give you a look at your baby’s surface, or even at internal organs. It adds depth to images, as well as width and height that you have in a traditional ultrasound.

When it is used

3D ultrasounds are most often used in clinical research settings when researchers are looking for fetal anomalies. That being said, they’re becoming more and more popular in general use, as well. There are even some that suggest 3D ultrasounds may actually help a mom bond with her baby. 3D ultrasounds aren’t usually covered by insurance, so many parents choose to pay for them.

The risks

There are no more risks with a 3D ultrasound than with a 2D ultrasound. While there may be some risk associated with ultrasounds in general, these risks usually only apply when you’re talking about an extended duration, rather than the few minutes that the ultrasound is typically used in a doctor’s office setting.

What’s next

4D ultrasounds are on the horizon. These ultrasounds will present the 3D image to be presented in real time, rather than with a delayed, time-lapsed image that comes with a 3D ultrasound.

So, what about you? Have you had a 3D ultrasound done? What did you think?

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