The Value of Ultrasound

Dr. Peggy Hartshorn

How is ultrasound done?

Sound waves are bounced off the developing child using a hand-held device (trasducer) rubbed across the mother’s belly. Echoes from the waves are converted to an image (sonogram) on a TV monitor. For a better picture the woman’s belly is covered with gel, and the woman is asked to have a full bladder(to use as as easily identifiable “landmark”). The procedure is painless, although having a full bladder can be uncomfortable. Early in the pregnancy when the fallopian tubes and uterus are not close the the surface of the belly, sound waves can be delivered through a probe inserted into the vagina (trans-vaginal ultrasound).

Why is it done?

  • When there is a suspected ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy in fallopian tubes or abdomen)
  • To see if there is more than one baby
  • To determine the age of the unborn child
  • To evaluate growth (whether it is too fast/too slow, too much amniotic fluid or poor fetal development)
  • In cases of a possible miscarriage (when there is bleeding early in the pregnancy; fetal heartbeat and/or movement has/have stopped)
  • To help perform other diagnostic tests (i.e. amniocentesis and chlorionic villus sampling)
  • Can be used to help diagnose some birth defects
  • To check for the well-being of the unborn baby late in pregnancy
  • To select the method of delivery

Are there risks?

No risks have been identified.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

~ Psalm 139:13-16



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