Navigating High-Risk Pregnancies: How Ultrasound Plays a Vital Role in Monitoring and Management

While pregnancy is exciting, it also brings a myriad of considerations, especially for those experiencing high-risk pregnancies. High-risk pregnancies are linked to a wide range of health conditions and considerations, necessitating specialised care and observation. For this reason, ultrasound plays a vital role in monitoring and managing high-risk pregnancies. Ultrasound examinations help doctors observe the development of the pregnancy, ensuring both mother and embryo’s well-being.

The Role of Ultrasound in Pregnancies

Ultrasound is a non-invasive imaging technique which gives doctors a view of the reproductive organs. Through high-frequency sound waves, the ultrasound machine produces images of the fetus, placenta, uterus, and other pelvic structures. From the first ultrasound, the doctor can confirm the pregnancy, estimate the gestational age, evaluate fetal growth, and detect potential abnormalities. Ultrasound is even more important for those experiencing high-risk pregnancies as it offers doctors key insights which will guide their decisions and potential interventions.

High-Risk Pregnancies

There are a range of reasons a pregnancy may be considered high-risk; here are a few factors that can influence a pregnancy’s risk level.

Age-Related Risks

A woman’s age significantly influences pregnancy risk. Women who are younger than 19 and older than 35 are considered high-risk for complications. Women younger than 19 are more likely to experience eclampsia, puerperal endometritis and systemic infections. After 35, women have higher risks of chromosomal abnormalities, miscarriage, and complications such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Ultrasound screenings help detect signs of age-related issues early in the pregnancy, allowing the doctors to monitor and manage them.

Underlying Health Issues

Pregnancies are also affected by pre-existing conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, kidney disease, and autoimmune disorders. Ultrasound imaging helps doctors assess the effects of such conditions while monitoring the fetus’s development and the mother’s health.

Pregnancy-Related Medical Conditions

Other risk factors are health-related issues which arise during the pregnancy. Gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and placenta previa increase the risk associated with the pregnancy. Frequent ultrasound screenings help doctors monitor and manage these conditions as they arise.

Reproductive Health Issues

Women with a history of difficult pregnancies and reproductive health issues are at a higher risk of pregnancy complications. Fertility treatments, recurrent miscarriages, reproductive conditions such as PCOS or endometriosis, or previous preterm births face higher risks. Monitoring the pregnancy as it develops helps doctors detect issues that could lead to similar outcomes and manage them accordingly.

Ectopic Pregnancies

From the first ultrasound examination, doctors can identify an ectopic pregnancy. This occurs when the embryo implants outside of the uterus; such a pregnancy is non-viable and poses a health risk to the mother if not identified and treated quickly.

How Ultrasound Helps Doctors Monitor High-Risk Pregnancies

Ultrasound gives doctors a detailed view of a developing pregnancy and the fetal environment. Doctors can assess the mother and fetus’s well-being, the placenta’s function and position, uterine conditions, and the volume of amniotic fluid. Such information allows doctors to monitor high-risk pregnancies, devise care plans, and schedule interventions where necessary as issues arise.

While high-risk pregnancies can be stressful, ultrasound plays a vital role in navigating high-risk pregnancies. Ultrasound technology offers a safe, non-invasive imaging method that helps doctors make timely decisions to ensure the health and well-being of the mother and fetus. For expectant mothers facing high-risk pregnancies, it is critical to connect with a medical team who can help manage these challenges.

OMNI Ultrasound & Gynaecological Care

Condous performs Advanced Endosurgery procedures for women needing intervention for pelvic masses, adnexal pathology, severe endometriosis or hysterectomy. He also runs ‘Hands on’ Live Sheep Laparoscopic Workshops for gynaecologists at Camden Veterinarian School.
Having completed an undergraduate degree with the University of Adelaide, he left Australia in 1993 and moved to London where he completed his training in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. From 2001 to 2003 Condous worked as a Senior Research Fellow at St George’s Hospital, London. At St George’s he set up the Acute Gynaecology Unit, the first in the United Kingdom. It was also during this time that he developed an interest in Early Pregnancy and especially the management of pregnancies of unknown location (PULs). Condous has developed many mathematical models for the prediction of outcome of PULs which have been featured in numerous peer review journals. In 2005, he returned to Australia where he completed his Laparoscopic Fellowship at the Centre for Advanced Reproductive Endosurgery, Royal North Shore, Sydney.

Condous was appointed as a Consultant Gynaecologist and Senior Lecturer at Nepean Hospital in 2006 and soon was made Associate Professor. In 2010, he was made Departmental Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Nepean Hospital. He obtained the MRCOG in 1999 and was made FRANZCOG in 2005. In 2009, he was awarded his Doctorate in Medicine (MD), University of London, for his thesis entitled: “The management of pregnancies of unknown location and the development of new mathematical models to predict outcome”.

Condous has edited three books including the “Handbook of Early Pregnancy Care”, published over 100 papers in international journals and is internationally renowned for his work in Early Pregnancy. He is the Associate Editor for Gynaecologic Obstetric Investigation, which is a European based journal, as well as the Australasian Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine (AJUM). He is on the organising committee and is an invited speaker at the International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynaecology (ISUOG) Scientific meeting in Sydney 2013. His current research interests relate to the management of ectopic pregnancy, 1st trimester growth, PULs and miscarriage and the use of transvaginal ultrasound (in particular sonovaginography, to predict posterior compartment deep infiltrating rectovaginal endometriosis).Condous is also actively involved with post-graduate education including the annual running of the Early Pregnancy and Gynaecological Ultrasound Interactive Courses for Sonologists, Radiologists, Sonographers and Gynaecologists in Australia.