Ultrasound and Fetal Medicine
What do you mean by Ultrasound ?
Ultrasound technology is a diagnostic imaging technique that is used to view internal body structures like tendons, muscles, etc. In gynaecology, ultrasound is usually used to examine pregnant mothers during different stages of their pregnancy. This is also used to identify conditions that might be harmful to both the mother and the unborn baby.
Ultrasound is used in Obstetrics and Gynaecology for the following uses:
- Determine the date of pregnancy
- Confirm fetal viability
- Determine fetus location to determine if its intrauterine or ectopic
- Inspect the location of the placenta corresponding to the cervix
- Checking for the number of fetuses, in cases of multiple pregnancies
- Checking the presence of any physical abnormalities in the baby
- Assess the growth of the fetus
- Check for the fetal movement and heartbeat
What do you mean by Fetal Medicine ?
This branch of medicine focusses on the management of the health concerns of the mother and the fetus, right from the time of conceiving till right after the delivery of the baby.
The specialists at fetal medicine centers perform prenatal tests, provide and recommend treatments and also perform surgeries if needed. In high-risk pregnancy cases, they will be asked to be the primary obstetrician.
Fetal Medicine and Ultrasound
The different tests a pregnant mother will undergo during her pregnancy are:
- First Trimester Ultrasound
An ultrasound will be conducted during the first 3 months or first trimester of the pregnancy of the mother. This ultra sound scan during pregnancy will help in estimating:
- Duration of the pregnancy or age of gestation
- Baby’s heartbeat
- Depending on the gestational age, a basic survey is done.
It is recommended that the mother drink water to attain a nearly full bladder for a better view.
- Nuchal Translucency Measurement
This test will help determine the presence of any chromosomal abnormalities like Down syndrome. Here, the fluid at the back of the baby’s neck will be measured.
For this test too, the mother is recommended to have a nearly full bladder right before the test.
- Detailed Anatomy or Level 2 Ultrasound
This test is performed in the second trimester or next 3 months of the pregnancy. This is done for a detailed view of the internal organ systems of the baby and their measurements. This will also chart out the baby’s development.
For this exam, the mother need not have a full bladder.
- Fetal Echocardiography
This is a detailed examination of the baby’s heart where the chambers of the heart are examined. These are usually done in cases where the unborn babies are at risk of heart malfunctions.
For this exam too, the mother need not have a full bladder.
- Biophysical Profile and Non-Stress Test
This test might be recommended in the third trimester or the last 3 months of the pregnancy. The Biophysical Profile test is an ultrasound that checks for the following:
- The amniotic fluid
- Fetal tone
Meanwhile, the Non-Stress test is usually done to monitor the baby’s heart and activity. The doctor might recommend either of the tests or sometimes, both the tests.
Authored By Dr. Sunil Eshwar
Medical disclaimer: For information purposes only