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.

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4 Responses to “3-D and 4-D ultrasound”

  1. Jacque Says:

    I am a Sonographer(ultrasound tech). Neither 3D nor 4D ultrasound are needed to improve a diagnosis, and in fact, they really don’t help at all. What is does is SOMETIMES give mom a clearer picture of what she is dealing with, as with a cleft lip. Neither 3D or 4D aid in ‘analyzing the baby’s age and development’ in any way! Structural problems are identified with 2D ultrasound!The absolute best thing about 3D ultrasound… it helps mom and dad bond with their baby!

  2. Lindsay Says:

    Hey Jacques – Thanks for your comment. I think getting a clearer view of the extent of a cleft lip or neural tube defect can improve a diagnosis, but I understand where you’re coming from. Yes, structural defects are identified in other ultrasounds as mentioned in previous posts. You’re so right in that these 4-D images are incredibly powerful in helping mom and dad bond. They are awesome in that regard, especially when performed by professional sonographers. Thanks for what you do and for taking your time to connect with us.

  3. Kelly Says:

    During A pregnancy(that I already knew was a high risk) I found out through a 3D ultrasound that my son was going to be born with a bilateral cleft lip and possibly a cleft palate involving the nasal cavity, and to expect the worse but pray for the best that’s what I did. He was born in Feb. 2010 and I got probably the best news I could possibly get. He had all 10 fingers and all 10 toes and then the nurse says ” it’s not in the palate just the lip” what a relief.

  4. Laura Says:

    The sonography revolution has given parents a new way of seeing their unborn child. Imagine, looking at a picture where you can actually see the baby’s facial features. Amazing! I can sill remember when I was pregnant 11 years ago, all I can see is a blurry picture of my baby. All I know is that my baby is a boy, according to my OB-GYNE.