Fetal Ultrasound

Ultrasound diagnostic imaging is used in a variety of medical settings, though many individuals are most familiar with this examination because of its consistent use throughout a woman’s pregnancy. This particular type of ultrasound is referred to as a fetal ultrasound.

The Basics About Fetal Ultrasounds

All ultrasounds are produced using sound waves that are delivered to a specified area of the body and then bounce back to a transmitting device that converts the length of the sound waves to create a detailed image of the patient’s internal structures. This type of technology is extremely useful in the diagnosis of many medical conditions, or in this case, to routinely check in on the development of a fetus.

Transabdominal Ultrasound

During your transabdominal fetal ultrasound, a technologist will apply a gel to the belly and begin moving a device called a transducer back and forth across your abdomen. Images created by the sound waves bouncing back to the transducer will be visible on a screen in front of you and the technologist.

Transvaginal Ultrasound

Often times if a patient is having a fetal ultrasound performed during the early stages of her pregnancy, a transvaginal ultrasound will be used. This type of fetal ultrasound requires a probe to be inserted through the vagina, which helps to create clearer, more detailed images of the baby.  This is most frequently the type of scan performed at Triangle Premier Women’s Health.

3D and 4D Fetal Ultrasounds

Most fetal ultrasound imaging tests will only produce a static 2D image for patients to view. However, recent technologies have allowed for more defined images to be created that can give a 3D, or even a 4D rendering of the developing fetus.

3D ultrasound images allow our specialists to assess the height, length, and width of the baby, while also showing them more detailed images of the patient’s reproductive system as well. A 4D ultrasound has these same capabilities, but also has the added benefit of producing a moving video of the fetus.

Other Fetal Examinations

There are a number of other techniques and tests that can evaluate more specific aspects of a growing baby’s health, including the analysis of their blood flow, heart function, facial structure, and more. Such tests are typically only conducted if one of our specialists suspects there may be a problem during your baby’s development, and so they are not implemented for every patient. These additional ultrasound imaging tests include:

  • Doppler ultrasound
  • Fetal echocardiography
  • Specialized sonographic evaluation

*Some scans are not performed within our office and sometimes may require a referral to another facility for certain scenarios.

The Purpose of a Fetal Ultrasound

Generally, when a woman reaches the 18th week of her pregnancy it will be time to conduct an anatomy ultrasound. As mentioned, this diagnostic procedure is used to assess the ongoing growth and development of the fetus. More specifically, fetal ultrasounds are used to:

  • Confirm a pregnancy
  • Determine the number of babies in the womb
  • Monitor amniotic fluid levels
  • Study the condition of the placenta
  • Determine the baby’s gender
  • See where the fetus is located and how it is positioned
  • Investigate potential birth defects
  • Evaluate how quickly the fetus is growing
  • Diagnose possible complications with the pregnancy

Not all of these evaluations will be available during the first few weeks of a woman’s pregnancy. This is why patients are expected to return to Triangle Premier Women’s Health every few weeks to receive adequate prenatal care and address any changes in fetal development.  Ultrasounds are ordered by our knowledgeable providers based on each individual’s need for assessment.

Your first ultrasound will be scheduled following your first prenatal visit with one of providers. To schedule your first prenatal visit, or to inquire about our scheduling process and ultrasounds, please contact our offices in Smithfield (919-934-3015) or Clayton (919-359-3050) today. You may also request an appointment with one of our highly skilled obstetricians by completing our online form.

Call us at (919) 934-3015