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4D Ultrasound

See the level of detail that a 4D ultrasound can provide.

What is a 4D Ultrasound?

Most mothers will have at least one ultrasound performed in a medical setting during the course of their pregnancy. What’s also true of most mothers is that a two-dimensional ultrasound is the standard. This test provides outlines and flat images that give doctors and families views of the baby’s internal organs, like the heart or kidneys, to make sure that everything is developing properly. As imaging technology becomes more advanced and widely available, ultrasounds in three and four dimensions are possible.

In most cases, 4D ultrasounds are considered optional and not medically necessary. For some high-risk pregnancies, however, a 4D ultrasound could be recommended. If you have the type of pregnancy that would benefit from the level of detail that a 4D ultrasound can provide, Valley Perinatal Services in can help.

4D Ultrasound Overview

A 4D ultrasound integrates time as a 4th dimension to the more commonly used 3D ultrasound. This fourth dimension allows for the possibility of seeing more details including movements and images with unique vantage points. The test is performed just like a 2D ultrasound, with the exception of more advanced equipment, while maintaining the same levels of safety.

Ultrasounds of all types work by using sound waves to form images that are interpreted by a computer. The mother’s belly is coated in a layer of conductive gel, and a sonographer moves a transducer along the skin. The transducer emits ultrasound waves that are reflected off of the structures they encounter, and the strength of the waves and time they take to return to the probe form the basis of the images.

What 4D Ultrasounds are Used For

2D, 3D, and 4D ultrasounds are all used for similar functions. All of the tests will capture images that allow doctors to assess the baby’s growth and well-being, see and hear a heartbeat, and locate and assess the placenta if necessary. 3D ultrasounds additionally provide a clearer picture of certain potential anomalies of the face, heart, limbs, neural tube, and skeleton.

The addition of video in the 4D ultrasound allows doctors to assess internal movement to detect even further problems. With a moving image, the fetal heart wall or valves can be examined along with the blood flow in various vessels going to and from the heart. 4D ultrasounds are not typically used to diagnose problems, but are used to confirm an unusual occurrence in another test.

4D Ultrasound Tips

While 4D “keepsake ultrasounds” are popular, we recommend that you not get any scans that aren’t medically necessary. Ultrasounds are a safe test with low levels of risk, but ultrasounds should only be performed by trained professionals, especially in high-risk pregnancies, in order to keep the time and intensity of ultrasound exposure to a minimum.

The best time to get 3D images of your baby, as well as 4D videos, is between 26 and 30 weeks. Before week 26, there isn’t enough fat under the skin to get a good image of the face; after 30 weeks, the baby is moving into position for delivery, so his or her head might not be visible on images.

Obstetric Ultrasounds for Arizona Mothers

It might be the case that an expectant high-risk mother requires a 4D ultrasound for medical purposes. We have seven locations that can assist you with the care and management of your pregnancy. We are ranked in the top one percent of perinatologists in the nation and have specially-trained ultrasound sonographers who focus on the best possible outcome for your pregnancy. Call us at 480.756.6000 or contact us online.