Curious if you should undergo a 3D ultrasound during your pregnancy and wondering, “What exactly is a 3D ultrasound?” Discover how this ultrasound technique during pregnancy compares to others and whether it’s the right choice for you.
Previously, ultrasounds yielded hazy and hard-to-interpret pictures. Unquestionably, 3D ultrasounds offer a significantly clearer and more defined glimpse of your little one’s delicate characteristics before birth. Discover the essential details about 3D baby ultrasounds: expenses, advantages, and comparisons to 2D and 4D ultrasounds.
What Is 3-D Ultrasound?
Similar to their two-dimensional (2D) counterparts, 3D ultrasounds use high-frequency sound waves and imaging software to create images of your baby’s soft tissues, organs, and other anatomy. Yet, 3D ultrasounds create images of your child that are far more precise and distinct.
Dr. Bart Putterman, an OB-GYN at the Texas Children’s Center for Women in Houston, claims that 3D technology has dramatically increased the quality of ultrasound imaging. They produce images with a high degree of photographic realism.
A 3D ultrasound is performed the same way as any conventional abdominal ultrasound. The doctor or ultrasound technician will apply ultrasound gel to your abdomen before moving a transducer across the area. The transducer, which resembles a wand or remote control, guides the sound waves into your uterus and the developing fetus to produce an image of your baby. The photographs show on a screen where the provider can read information and store image stills.
A 3D ultrasound can be performed at any stage during pregnancy, either in lieu of or in addition to a conventional 2D ultrasound. The fetus will be developed enough to be properly observed during this time. Moreover, there is a reduced possibility that fluid or pelvic placement will obstruct outcomes.
The Advantages of 3D Ultrasounds for Babies
Because the images in a 3D ultrasound are considerably sharper and clearer, your doctor may be able to discover any developmental issues with your baby.
Michele Hakakha, M.D., an OB-GYN in Beverly Hills and author of Expecting 411, believes that a 3D ultrasound has a lot of advantages over a standard 2D ultrasound, including the capacity to observe an infinite number of planes, which makes fetal anatomy much clearer.
“When combined with a 2D ultrasound, 3D ultrasonography can aid in the earlier diagnosis of numerous potential anomalies, including as cleft lip or cleft palate, other craniofacial abnormalities, neural tube disorders like spina bifida, and skeletal malformations,” she says.
Yet from the standpoint of expecting parents, 3D ultrasounds provide a considerably clearer view of the baby’s face, making this new technology all the more fascinating.
How Much Does 3D Ultrasound Imaging Cost?
While 2D ultrasounds provide a sufficient view of your baby’s development, many insurance companies do not cover 3D photos unless they are medically necessary. Insurance will never cover ultrasounds performed in malls or other non-medical settings (which experts recommend you avoid anyway).
Considering that most health insurance plans, including Medicare, do not cover 3D or 4D ultrasounds, you will likely have to pay for the operation yourself. Your out-of-pocket costs may vary dependent on your region and provider, so consult your physician for additional information.
How Safe Are 3D Ultrasounds?
Like with standard ultrasounds, 3D ultrasounds do not use radiation or x-rays and are generally considered safe for you and your unborn child when performed under the guidance of a competent medical expert. However, the FDA has urged consumers to avoid “keepsake photos” and heart monitors administered outside of a doctor’s office, since they may offer risks to your developing child.
The safest course of action is to schedule your ultrasounds per your provider’s instructions. Yet, there is no harm in requesting copies to share with family and friends.
Difference between 3D and 4D Ultrasound
What exactly is a 4D ultrasound? 4D ultrasounds go one step further by recording video. Although 3D ultrasounds generate clear, three-dimensional still photos of your baby, 4D ultrasounds capture video. You will receive an image of your kid with live-action movement, allowing you to view what your child is doing at that same moment, such as smiling, smirking, or sucking their thumb, without the brief time delay of conventional ultrasounds.
Do I Need a 3D or 4D Ultrasound?
Inevitably, the demand for 3D and 4D ultrasounds has increased as more parents desire a closer look at their unborn children. While this technology is becoming increasingly common in doctor’s clinics, you need not be concerned if you are not provided one. The conventional 2D ultrasound is still useful for screening for potential abnormalities and verifying that everything is normal in the pregnancy.
In fact, Dr. Hakakha recommends avoiding the temptation to obtain a 3D or 4D ultrasound unless your doctor’s clinic offers it as part of a routine visit. “Choosing to undergo a 3D/4D ultrasound during pregnancy to gain ‘better’ images of one’s fetus is not essential and can be risky if done repeatedly without a doctor’s advice,” she notes.
Similarly, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises expecting parents to avoid “keepsake” ultrasound photos and movies that are already commercially accessible and promoted to prospective parents. Although medically essential ultrasounds have not been proven to cause harm when delivered by skilled medical personnel, ultrasound may heat tissues or cause cavitation, which is the formation of tiny bubbles.
According to the FDA, the long-term effects of tissue heating and cavitation remain unknown. Thus, ultrasonic scans should only be performed when medically necessary, based on a prescription, and by adequately educated operators.