Birmingham area residents ask, "Why is ultra sound used in obstetrics?"
Ultra sound technology is a very common obstetrics diagnostic tool that we use daily in our office. It works by emitting high frequency sound waves from a transducer that is moved over the abdominal area. The ultrasound beams scan the fetus and reflect back to the transducer. This information is then composed into a picture of the fetus that is visible on the monitor.
Ultra sound is safe, non-invasive, and an accurate way to monitor pregnancy. We offer our Birmingham area patients the convenience of in-office ultra sound.
Some of the main uses of ultra sound include:
- Confirmation of early pregnancy. The ultra sound can detect a gestational sac at around 4.5 weeks and the yolk sac at about five weeks. By five and a half weeks, the embryo can be seen and measured. Ultra sound is also important early in pregnancy to determine the location of the pregnancy.
- Determining gestational age. Ultra sound can help us measure the fetal body and determine an accurate gestational age. These measurements are important for patients who are unsure of the date of their last menstrual cycle. Some of the most common measurements include crown to rump, the diameter of the head, femur length, and abdominal circumference.
- Vaginal bleeding. If you are experiencing vaginal bleeding, ultra sound can help detect viability of the fetus. They can also identify blighted ovum and missed abortions.
- Detecting fetal abnormalities. Many fetal malformations can be diagnosed by ultra sound. Some of the most common are hydrocephalus, anencephaly, dwarfism, spina bifida, cleft palates, and even heart abnormalities. During the first trimester, ultrasound markers can also help identify Down syndrome.
- Location of the placenta. Ultra sound can detect the location of the placenta, which can help with a diagnosis or exclusion of placenta previa.
- Detecting multiple pregnancies. Ultra sounds can help determine if there are multiple fetuses.
In most normal pregnancies, there is a scan around 7-8 weeks to confirm the pregnancy, an optional one between 10 and 13 weeks to screen for abnormalities, and again at around 18-20 weeks to evaluate the anatomy. If abnormalities are suspected, additional ultra sounds may be ordered.
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