Our Outpatient Services

Fetal Ultrasound

What is a fetal (obstetrical) ultrasound?

An ultrasound examination or sonogram consists of an imaging technique that generates a high quality image of the developing fetus within the uterus.

Why is a fetal ultrasound a routine part of prenatal care?

Many birth defects, such as spina bifida, heart defects, brain abnormalities, cleft lip, club foot, chest, abdominal and genitourinary abnormalities can be diagnosed while the fetus is between 18-20 weeks (sometime sooner).  If an abnormality exists, pediatric subspecialists including heart surgeons, orthopaedic surgeons, craniofacial surgeons, neurosurgeons or intensive care specialists can meet with the expecting parents to help them understand the course of medical care once the baby is born.  In certain cases, the specific abnormality may require pediatric subspecialty care to be present at the time of delivery.

Why do I need an ultrasound if my CVS or amniocentesis result was normal?

Diagnostic tests such as chorionic villus sampling and amniocentesis identify abnormalities in the chromosomes of developing fetuses (such as Down syndrome).  While birth defects are more common in fetuses with chromosome abnormalities, birth defects are also relatively common in fetuses with normal chromosomes.  Therefore, a normal CVS or amniocentesis does not eliminate the need for a comprehensive ultrasound.

Are there any risks to my developing baby?

No.  Ultrasound technology is amazing.  The probe that is used to generate the ultrasound image emits an ultrasonic sound wave that reflects off the developing fetus to help generate a high-resolution image.  The amount of time the probe emits sound waves is approximately 1/1000 of the time it spends listening.  That means that if the ultrasound exam were t o last 24 hours, the fetus would be exposed to roughly 1 minute of ultrasound energy.

Why should I have my ultrasound performed by Diablo Valley Perinatal Associates?

We are a specialized referral center that performs more than 12,000 fetal ultrasounds each year.  Our sonographers and board certified subspecialty physicians, are specifically trained to obtain and interpret fetal images. Furthermore, our physicians and genetic counselors are specifically trained to counsel and care for any abnormalities detected.

Why is a fetal ultrasound so important in pregnancy?

During the first trimester, a fetal ultrasound can help determine the health of an early pregnancy with the nuchal translucency measurement as part of the California Prenatal Screening Program.  During the second trimester, a fetal ultrasound rules out most birth defects with a comprehensive evaluation of the fetal anatomy.  During the third trimester, a fetal ultrasound evaluates the size of the developing baby and identifies pregnancies with abnormal fetal growth.

 

FYI

Why is an ultrasound exam so important in pregnancy?

During the first trimester, a fetal ultrasound determines the health of an early pregnancy with the measurement of the nuchal translucency.

During the second trimester, a fetal ultrasound rules out most birth defects with a comprehensive evaluation of the fetal anatomy.

During the third trimester, a fetal ultrasound evaluates the size of the developing baby and identifies pregnancies with abnormal growth.