What is an Ultrasound?

An ultrasound (also called sonogram) is a diagnostic technique which uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the internal organs. In the case of pregnancy, it creates an image of the uterus (womb). An ultrasound helps your health care provider monitor your health, the development of the baby, and verify the due date. Ultrasounds may be performed several times throughout a pregnancy for many reasons, such as:

  • To establish the dates of a pregnancy
  • To diagnose an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage
  • To examine the uterus and other pelvic anatomy
  • In some cases to detect fetal abnormalities
  • To assist in prenatal tests such as an amniocentesis
  • To check the amount of amniotic fluid
  • To examine blood flow patterns
  • To observe fetal behavior and activity
  • To examine the placenta
  • To measure the length of the cervix
  • To monitor fetal growth
  • As part of a biophysical profile
  • To determine the position of the baby

The most common imaging technique is two dimensional (2D), which gives a flat picture of one aspect of the image. There are also 3D and 4D, which can help your health care provider see more specific details or even a “live action” view. These typically require more specialized machines and training.

How is an Ultrasound Performed?

The information obtained through the ultrasound will help you make an informed decision about your pregnancy and moving forward. Registered nurses perform the ultrasound in a private setting. There are 2 types of ultrasounds that can be performed: Abdominal and Transvaginal. Although, specific details may vary slightly by clinic, typically they follow this process:

  1. Abdominal Ultrasound: gel is applied to the abdomen and the ultrasound transducer glides over the gel on the abdomen to create the image. A woman may need to have a full bladder for abdominal ultrasounds in early pregnancy.
  2. Transvaginal Ultrasound: a smaller ultrasound transducer is inserted into the vagina and rests against the back of the vagina to create an image. A transvaginal ultrasound produces a sharper image and is often used in early pregnancy.

Is an Ultrasound Painful?

An ultrasound is not painful. There may be a little discomfort due to the pressure of the transducer in either type of ultrasound. A transvaginal ultrasound also requires a plastic or latex wrap, which could cause a reaction in those with sensitivities to those materials.

Why do I Need an Ultrasound?

An ultrasound is a technique that is constantly being improved and refined. As with any test, results may not be completely accurate. However, an ultrasound can provide valuable information for patients and health care providers to help manage and care for a pregnancy.

If you are facing an unexpected pregnancy, the most important thing you can do next is to prioritize your health and well-being. As you navigate your pregnancy decision, one of the best first steps you can take is to find out more about your unique medical needs first. Seeking in-person care with a medical professional through an ultrasound exam could answer a lot of key questions, such as:

  • How far along you are (and what pregnancy options may be available to you)
  • If the pregnancy is located in the uterus (or if ectopic pregnancy is a concern)
  • If the pregnancy is viable (or if miscarriage care is necessary)

It may also be reassuring to you to discuss your pregnancy options with a caring professional in person. At Bella Medical Clinic, our medical team can help you answer your questions at no cost to you. Schedule your free appointment today to put your health and safety first.

You deserve to have all the information at your disposal to make a confident, healthy choice. Schedule your free appointment today – you are not alone as you navigate this decision.

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