3-D and 4-D ultrasound
In 3-D ultrasound, sound waves are scanned across the abdomen to offer three dimensional images that are similar to photographs. 3-D ultrasound images help provide a clearer picture of the baby’s development and can detect facial abnormalities, such as cleft lip or palate, or the extent of a neural tube defect, like spina bifida.
You may have heard of 4-D ultrasound, which is a combination of 3-D still images viewed over time. The result is “live action” images of your developing baby. It is not available everywhere and is used to take a more in depth view of an image seen in a previous ultrasound. As with other types of ultrasound, it is helpful in analyzing the baby’s age and development. It can detect structural problems with the uterus, placental placement or abnormalities, abnormal bleeding, ectopic pregnancy, fibroids and ovarian tumors. Many high-risk pregnancy centers have this sophisticated, higher resolution technology.
4-D sounds really cool, but it’s important to note that non-medical use of ultrasound during pregnancy should be avoided… no home videos for the sake of sharing your good news. Commercial sites, often unsupervised by physicians, may offer really fun looking “keepsake” fetal images to parents. Be aware, however, that the persons performing these ultrasounds may not have adequate training and may give a woman inaccurate or even harmful information. So, if you’re really curious, speak with your provider about ultrasound options available to you.