WHAT IS 4D SONOGRAPHY IN PREGNANCY?

Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to create an internal image of the body. The technology has been around in the form of 2D (two-dimensional) scans since the end of the 1950s, but only more widely used in to observe fetuses since the late 1970s.

As this technology has progressed, doctors have also introduced more advanced forms of ultrasound – notably 3D and 4D (three-dimensional and four-dimensional) scans. Doctors can better observe the fetus using 3D imagery as well as observe the fetus moving in time – this is the 4th dimension.

How Does It Work?

During a 4D ultrasound, the mother-to-be will lie back and the doctor will apply a water-based gel to the belly and then hold a wand or transducer against the belly. The ultrasound machine bounces sound waves off the amniotic fluid and internal fetal organs to produce an image on the screen for the doctor to assess the health, development, and size of the fetus.

The Difference Between 2D, 3D and 4D Sonography

A 2D ultrasound produces a black and white cross-sectional view of the fetus to detect potential internal anomalies such as heart and kidney defects.

A 3D ultrasound uses more sophisticated software to decipher the image, producing a three-dimensional image of the fetus’s surface. From here, the doctor can measure the height, width, and depth of the fetus to diagnose things such as cleft lips and spinal defects.

More advanced still is a 4D ultrasound. In 4D sonography, the software produces a real-time video of the fetus to show its movement, be it thumb sucking, opening its eyes or stretching. This scan offers even more information about the development of the fetus.

Benefits of a 4D Ultrasound

As far as scans go, 4D scans offer a clearer image of the fetus which enables doctors to assess the maturation and development of the central nervous system and diagnose the potential formation of a cleft lip. In instances of concern, neurological disorders which typically manifest during perinatal and postnatal periods are easier to diagnose using 4D sonography.

Is 4D Sonography Harmful?

Ultrasound is a safe non-invasive way of assessing the organs and the well being of your unborn baby. However, in line with the ALARA principle (as low as reasonably possible), doctors prefer not to subject the fetus or mother to any unnecessary diagnostic testing. For this reason, doctors only recommend 2D, 3D and/or 4D ultrasound scans when there is medical indication for the ultrasound scan. This is also why non-medical use of 4D ultrasound scans to get a photographic keepsake are discouraged.

In addition, it is also discouraged to get such scans from a non-certified sonographer. If something unusual is spotted, they will be unable to explain it to the parents, or to accurately diagnose it. Trained medical personnel will minimise exposure to ultrasound waves and reassure parents or suggest additional testing where necessary.

OMNI sonographers are accredited by the Fetal Medicine Foundation to conduct thorough 2D, 3D and 4D ultrasounds. If you need advice, information, or if you want to book your ultrasound, Get In Touch with us today.

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.