The ultrasound will evaluate three important aspects of the pregnancy
- Determine if the pregnancy is inside the uterus. A pregnancy outside the uterus is a life-threatening situation which requires immediate medical attention.
- Determine how far along are the pregnancy and gestational age of the fetus
- Look for signs of viability (that the pregnancy is capable of developing under normal conditions) including baby’s heartbeat which begins 21 days after conception.
What is obstetrical ultrasound?
An ultrasound, or sonogram, is a routine part of prenatal care in which the sonographer is able to see inside the body. A hand-held transducer is pressed against the skin and sends high-pitch sound waves that humans are unable to hear. The sound waves bounce off internal organs and structures and are received by the transducer. The machine constantly translates the sound waves into images on the monitor. This allows real-time viewing of what is happening inside the body, including viewing fetal heartbeat and movements.
What can I expect before, during, and after the procedure?
There is no special preparation for your ultrasound exam. A specially trained sonographer will ask you a few questions relating to your pregnancy before the exam begins.
Most ultrasounds are fast and easy, with little discomfort.
After you are positioned on the examination table, the sonographer will apply some warm gel on your skin. The transducer will be held firmly against your skin and is moved back and forth over your lower abdomen until the desired images are captured.
Often in early pregnancy, a vaginal ultrasound is performed to obtain clearer images. A protective cover is placed over a special transducer and lubricated with a small amount of gel. The transducer is inserted into the vagina by the examiner, or you may be asked to insert it as you would a tampon. The sonographer will then obtain the desired images.
The pictures and report will then be reviewed and read by a doctor.
After an ultrasound exam, you should be able to resume your normal activities immediately.
Is Ultrasound Safe?
There are no known harmful effects associated with the medical use of ultrasound. The American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine, an association of physicians, sonographers, scientists, and engineers, has a Bio-effects committee that meets regularly to consider the bioeffects and safety of ultrasound. They have adopted the following statement.
“There are no known harmful effects associated with the medical use of sonography. Widespread clinical use of diagnostic ultrasound for many years has not revealed any harmful effects. Studies in humans have revealed no direct link between the use of diagnostic ultrasound and any adverse outcome. Although the possibility exists that biological effects may be identified in the future, current information indicates that the benefits to patients far outweigh the risks, if any.”
– About your Exam
American institute of Ultrasound in Medicine
(The information on this page is intended for general education purposes only, and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional and/or medical advice.)
Be responsible with your pregnancy
It is important to know that you are pregnant before making life choices. An ultrasound will determine the fetal gestational age and your due date. This is important information whether you are considering abortion or continuing your pregnancy. We offer pregnancy testing and limited obstetrical ultrasounds: all services are free of charge.