If you’ve ever had a friend share an unrecognizable grainy, black and white image on a printout of an ultrasound exam with you and ask “doesn’t she look just like me?” you’ll understand the benefit of 3D Ultrasound technology.
For the patient and parent, the new 3D Ultrasound imaging lends the rewarding feel of reality to the visual representation of the fetus growing into a child inside the mother. For the doctor at Best Women’s Medical Care in Brooklyn, New York, it lends yet another layer of detailed input to the call he has to make on the health of the child and mother.
What is 3D Ultrasound?
Two-dimensional ultrasound imaging has been around for decades. It gives a trained eye a look into the proper measurements of the fetus and a glimpse over several scans and several weeks into the growth patterns of the child. It enables the OB-GYN to understand if the child is healthy or if there are any potential problems looming that might require more invasive tests like amniocentesis.
Three-dimensional imaging dates back to 1987 and lends an entirely different and more realistic picture to the examination. To the trained and untrained eye alike, the image, of the fetus is no longer a Rorschach test of black and white shading, it is the picture of a child’s face, hands, feet and body. Described by many mothers as far more rewarding, the experience to them is real. The parents can count fingers, toes, yawns and often can say with authority that their child looks like daddy, mommy or grandpa.
For the doctor and the ultrasound technician, 3D imaging provides an more nuanced view into the fetus’ shape and measurements.
Most of the baby’s features are seen in great detail right down to smiles, eyes opening and shutting and sucking thumbs. The medical practitioner can see or rule out most physical birth defects including the very important left ventricle volume as well as examine the internal anatomy the mother in great detail.
How does 3D work?
Ultrasonic waves are sent through a wand into the mother’s womb from different angles and are reflected back to the monitor from the shapes inside. These echoes are processed and rendered into a picture enabling the doctor to see the baby’s physicality and the anatomical structure of the mother inside.
Traditional 2D imaging only provides what are described as slices of this image. It takes a trained eye to assemble a full picture from 2D renderings.
Risks to the baby and the mother are considered minimal. Exposure to the sonic waves of 3D imaging are no more intense than those of 2D imaging. Two-dimensional imaging has been common practice over the past three or four decades.
Best Women’s Medical Care provides both pictures on a CD and a DVD of the full 3D ultrasound experience to it’s patients.