Expert Health Articles

Ultrasound in Pregnancy

Dr. Miguel JordanDr. Miguel Jordan

OBGYN, Blanchard Valley Women & Children’s Center

Pregnancy can be such an exciting time for a patient and their family. Many times patients can't wait to see their baby and have the gender revealed. The most common way we are able to accomplish this is through ultrasound. These ultrasounds can range from two-dimensional, three-dimensional or four-dimensional. A four-dimensional ultrasound is just a video of the three-dimensional images.

Ultrasound in pregnancy has been used for many years and the indications range from confirming pregnancy viability, dates, fetal conditions and diagnosis of fetal abnormalities. The list of indications is quite lengthy, but most patients end up getting at least two indicated ultrasounds.

Indicated ultrasounds mean there is a medical reason where the benefits will outweigh the risks. A recent problem with ultrasounds is that they’re being done for entertainment and profit. For example, early determination of the fetus’s sex without a medical reason, will cost an average of $200 and will give you an earlier answer of the gender by approximately four weeks, which is not 100 percent accurate.

It is fairly standard to know the gender of your baby between 18 and 22 weeks at the anatomy scan, which is usually covered by insurance. From this point, you still have another five months to prepare before the baby is born.

Below is an excerpt from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Practice Bulletin Number 175 from December 2016 regarding patient safety.

"Ultrasonography is safe for the fetus when used appropriately and should be used when medical information about a pregnancy is needed; however, ultrasound energy delivered to the fetus cannot be assumed to be completely innocuous, and the possibility exists that such biological effects may be identified in the future. Thus, ultrasonography should be performed only when there is a valid medical indication and, in all cases, the lowest possible ultrasound exposure settings that obtain adequate image quality and gain the necessary diagnostic information should be used following the as-low-as-reasonably-achievable principle.”