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.