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You are here : home > Pregnancy > Medical Aspects of Pregnancy > Sonography (ultrasound)

Sonography (Ultrasound)

Sonography (Ultrasound)

A Sonography or Ultrasound is something that expecting parents look forward to from the moment they know they are pregnant. It is the first chance they get to see their baby, that too when the baby is still growing in the mother’s womb. But an ultrasound is much more than just a glorified camera.

Read on to find out how ultrasounds aid in screening the growth and development of the foetus and to check defects or abnormalities right as they begin to occur.

The terms Ultrasound and Sonography are technically different, but they are used interchangeably because they refer to the same the medical examination.

What is an Ultrasound?

An Ultrasound is a routine examination performed upon a pregnant woman to scan her pelvic cavity and abdomen, thereby creating a sonogram (or picture) of the foetus and placenta.

Parents look forward to the sonogram as it is the first time they lay eyes on their little one by way of a picture of the womb. But the Sonography is much more than just a glorified camera.

A Sonography helps the doctor check up on the progress of the baby’s health and development. Early in the pregnancy, ultrasounds help confirm the foetal heartbeat and the state and progress of your pregnancy. Further in the pregnancy, ultrasounds help check the umbilical cord, location of the placenta, and overall foetal health and growth. Towards the end of your pregnancy, a Sonography helps determining if the baby is in the proper position in the womb, identifying any uterine or pelvic abnormalities in the mother, checking the length of the cervix in case of any doubts of pre-term labour. 

How is an Ultrasound Carried out?

During an ultrasound, the sonographer spreads a cold water-based gel over your stomach and pelvis. He then moves a handheld probe or transducer over the area which transmits high frequency sound waves through the stomach to your uterus. The sound waves bounce off the baby, and echo back to the probe. The machine then translates the returning echoes into video form thereby creating a black and white visual image of the foetus’ size, position and movements. It also gives doctors a view of your placenta, uterus and pelvic cavity. The doctors interpret the image by way of the colours of the image. Bones and other hard tissue appear in white, soft tissue in grey and amniotic and other fluids in grey.

Types of Ultrasounds

While the principle behind different types of ultrasounds is the same, the ultrasounds differ in the kind of problems or defects they target to unearth during pregnancy. The seven types of procedures are as follows:

Standard Ultrasound 

This is the traditional ultrasound exam in which a handheld transducer or probe is moved across the belly covered with lubricating cold gel to generate two dimensional images of the growing foetus and placenta.

Advanced Ultrasound 

Similar to the traditional ultrasound, the advanced ultrasound uses more hi-tech equipment in order to check for specific suspected defects or problems with the foetus or mother.

Transvaginal Ultrasound

During the early stage of pregnancy, this method of Sonography is used to especially check for ectopic pregnancies. As the name Transvaginal suggests, this ultrasound is done across the vagina. A condom covered transducer or probe is lubricated and placed inside the vagina. It emits harmless sound waves that bounce of the foetus and organs and tissues of the body to generate echoes. The probe converts these echoes into moving images.

Doppler Sonography

A handheld Doppler is used in the early stages of pregnancy to check the baby’s heartbeats. The Doppler Ultrasound uses echoes of the sound waves to inspect specific blood vessels and measure and check the flow of blood all over the foetus’s body. It can also be used in the case of high risk pregnancies to see the flow of blood from the mother’s placenta to the baby. The Doppler Sonography can also be done during the Transvaginal ultrasound scan.

Foetal Echocardiography

Your doctor will suggest a foetal echocardiography, also known as Foetal Echo, if he suspects that your baby’s heart is not developing normally for his age. This type of screening uses ultrasound waves to scan your baby’s heart and all attached blood valves and vessels. The foetus’s heart anatomy and function are screened in minute detail to look for congenital heart defects, particularly if the mother is diabetic or has a family history of heart defects at birth.

Foetal Anomaly Scan

Also known as Foetal Morphology Ultrasound Scan, this test looks at the position of the placenta and screens for any defects in the baby’s structural growth and development such as spina bifida or heart anomalies.

3-D Ultrasound, Dynamic 3-D Ultrasound and 4-D Ultrasound

All three ultrasound tests use uniquely designed software and probes to scan and generate detailed images of the developing baby. As the name suggests, 3-D ultrasound generates 3-D images while the 4-D and Dynamic 3-D ultrasounds allow visuals on the baby’s face and movements before delivery.

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Feminist.6 years ago
Dear Rashmi,

Why do you want to know the sex of your baby? Do you know that it is illegal if you are in India?

Your baby's sex is determined by the sperm of your spouse. You'll know when you know. You can travel abroad and get yourself an ultrasound if you are that desperate to know its sex.

Personally, I would love to be surprised to know whether I am going to be the mother of a Boy or a Girl. It would be my gift after struggling for hours to deliver my precious baby.
rashmi.9 years ago
want to know about sex of baby
Kalapan.9 years ago
is it safe for the baby when we take ultrasound scan. how many times can we take during pregnancy
sasi.9 years ago
identify the baby's maturity
Rupa.9 years ago
its my 7th week i had some bleeding in 6week when checked with doctor she gave me some tablets 1-1-1 that every 6hrs of i still have brownish drops(2-3drops) of bleeding doctor adviced complte bed worried if my baby is growing normally is my baby healtly????? no morning sickness till date nor we made love for past4weeks.
ashwini tapaswi
ashwini tapaswi.9 years ago
i want o know the health of my baby , because my first baby was gone through
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Discussion Forum - Recent Posts
What is an Ultrasound? When is an Ultrasound recommended? How is a Sonography carried out?
Sulekha Sulekha
Ultrasound is very helpful in many cases. Especially carried in pregnancy and other stomach related issues. Where the doctors check the problems in the stomach and scanning liver pancreas etc....
read reply
Radhika Rustogi Radhika Rustogi
Ultrasound procedure uses high-frequency sound waves to view the internal organs and produce images of the human body. It is non- invasive procedure and used to determine any diseased condition if p...
read reply
Payal Payal
Ultrasound works by transmitting ultrasound waves. The ultrasound machine transmits high-frequency sound pulses into the body using a probe.The sound waves travel into the body and some of the sound...
read reply
view more >>
Ultrasound Scan
RE:Sonography (ultrasound)
Ultrasound is very helpful in many cases. Especially carried in pregnancy a ... - Sulekha    read >>

Ultrasound scan
Ultrasound procedure uses high-frequency sound waves to view the internal o ... - Radhika Rustogi    read >>

working of an ultrasound
Ultrasound works by transmitting ultrasound waves. The ultrasound machine t ... - Payal    read >>

Need for ultrasound
Ultrasound is useful for a variety of conditions, including:
Obstetric s ...
- Rajesh Katyar    read >>

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