Posted on April 29th, 2017 by wombwithaviewblog.com

Diagnostic Ultrasound In a Nutshell

Ever wonder about what us sonographers really do when we perform your sonogram? Or why your paperwork called your exam a “diagnostic ultrasound?”

What Does Diagnostic Mean?

Anything “diagnostic” describes a test performed to try to find a problem. So, diagnostic ultrasound is ordered to rule out problems in pregnancy for Mom and Baby. Most people are very familiar with ultrasound but most consider it a fun and exciting event allowing you to see your baby and determine gender. And, yep, it can be all those things. However, first and foremost, ultrasound is a very important diagnostic tool used by your doctor to find structural abnormalities, follow fetal growth, and determine multiples. And this only scratches the surface!

What Do We Look For?

In a nutshell, my job requires me to document what I see and to make a report about it. More intricately speaking, I have to document with images and measurements everything I can see relative to fetal and maternal anatomy. Of course, what I can see and need to document all depends on how far along you are–your gestational age. Once I write a detailed report, I can present a complete ultrasound picture of your case to your physician.

What Things Can I See on Mom?

A few organs and measurements we try to see on mom are as follows:

  • The uterus and some types of pathology (like fibroids which are muscular tumors and very common)
  • The ovaries (those become obscured later as the uterus gets larger)
  • The cervix, which holds in the pregnancy and is sometimes observed for length in the 2nd trimester

What Things Can I See on Baby?

What parts we can see on Baby varies greatly depending on your gestational age. But a few things we look for are:

  • Baby’s size, to determine age or follow growth
  • Internal organs, depending on age, include the brain, heart, stomach, bladder and kidneys
  • Upper and lower extremities (arms and legs), again, depending on age. We try to see fingers and toes on your anatomy screen, but they can be a challenge–especially if the fists are closed in a ball.
  • Baby’s spine
  • Baby’s umbilical cord
  • The placenta and where it’s located
  • And last but not least! Maybe, possibly, if all the stars align and Baby cooperates, you just might be able to find out fetal sex.

How Does It Work?

Ultrasound is just that…sound waves which operate at a frequency far beyond human hearing. Ultrasound is not radiation. Sound waves, much like a fish finder, are sent from crystals in the transducer (the probe placed in the vagina or rubbed on your belly) and transmitted with the help of the ultrasound gel. The waves penetrate the tissues directly below the probe until they reach Baby. They bounce back and create the image you see on the monitor. Factors like the size of the patient and fetal position can limit what parts we see and how well we can see them on the examination.

Additionally, many other diagnostic ultrasound examinations are performed on various other parts of the body, as well. Ultrasound is THE most technologist-dependent modality there is. This means the machine does nothing without someone operating it. This precisely explains why some mamas receive a “baby girl” guess only to discover a little wee wee later on in the pregnancy. If the operator, or person holding the probe, lacks experience scanning fetal sex–oops!–wrong guess. And we’ve ALL heard those stories, haven’t we?!

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Comments: 8 Comments »

8 thoughts on “Diagnostic Ultrasound | Ultrasound Blog

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