What is 3d and 4d Ultrasound?
3D and 4D ultrasound exams allow you to see your unborn baby in even more depth and detail than a standard 2D ultrasound. In 3D or 4D, you get to see the real image of the baby, i.e., not his/her internal organ but the skin, nose, tongue. You will be able to see what your baby is doing in the uterus, like kicking, yawning, etc. In the 2D screening, the parents can see a faded greyish color of the picture on the screen. This picture appears as the device scans through the baby and shows his/her internal organs.
Why 3D and 4D sonograms are performed?
Older moms and those women who can complications during pregnancy usually go for 3D and 4D sonograms.
The practitioner usually performs 2D sonograms to find out if there is any abnormality with the pregnancy. They serve a 2D test to examine amniotic fluid, fetus position, and any congenital disability.
3D and 4D sonograms examine the fetal abnormalities closely. They can record cleft lip and spine issues or analyze any other defects.
You may perform an Ultrasound for the following purposes:
- Finding out your pregnancy due date.
- Monitoring your baby’s health.
- Confirming that the pregnancy is normal and is not ectopic pregnancy in which the baby grows in the fallopian tube.
- Finding the position of the baby, whether he is facing the right way.
- Looking if there is a chance of multiple pregnancies.
- Measuring the size of the fetus and the placenta.
- Determining the sex of the baby.
- Checking the level of amniotic fluid around the baby.
What is a 3D ultrasound in pregnancy?
In 3D Ultrasound, the sonographer records multiple two-dimensional pictures recorded from various angles and then merges them to create a three-dimensional image. For example, you will be able to see your baby in 3D, just like a regular picture on the phone or laptop. You will be able to see his/her face and the whole surface.
What is a 4D ultrasound in pregnancy?
4D Ultrasound is the same as 3D Ultrasound, but here you will not just see the image of your baby, but you can see his video. Thus in 4D Ultrasound, you will be able to see what your baby is doing on a real-time basis. You can see his/her action clearly on the monitor as the baby moves or turns him.
The safety of 3D and 4D ultrasounds during pregnancy
Getting a 3D or 4D ultrasound test is very tempting as you will be able to see your little ones. But as recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Ultrasound should always be performed for medical purposes. The procedure is safe for both the baby and the mother. Although there is no risk involved, however, it is advisable to perform it only when needed and by a qualified medical practitioner.
When you perform Ultrasound, it transmits some heat in the tissue; thus, they create small gas bubbles in the tissue and body fluids. This heating may harm your body in the long term. ACOG also advises that women go through a 2D ultrasound test between 18-22 weeks of their pregnancy.
Difference between 2D, Doppler, 3D, and 4D ultrasounds
To understand the difference between different types of Ultrasound, you need to look at their procedure:
2D ultrasound: For this method, the doctor uses a transducer device to send sound waves in your body. When the transducer is pressed against your skin or put in your vagina, it sends waves that hit the internal organs or fluids and bounce back. This bouncing wave creates an echo, which helps in creating an image on the monitor. This image is a cross-sectional view where you can see a greyish outline of the baby.
Doppler ultrasound: Doppler is a type of Ultrasound that helps to hear the baby’s heartbeat or blood flow through the body. The radiologist uses a hand-held device, which he rubs on a special gel applied to your abdominal area to hear the fetal heartbeat.
3D ultrasound: In this method, you will see the image of the baby more clearly. It creates a three-dimensional image of the baby by recording the organs’ internal and external details from different angles. In the monitor, you will be able to see the fetus’s heart, blood vessel or valves, baby’s skin, mouth, or shape.
4D ultrasound: 4D is similar to 3D; the most significant difference is that by 4D Ultrasound, you will be able to see the live video of your baby. The Ultrasound can record the baby’s line motion, like when the baby is moving hands or legs or yawning.
How does it work?
In 2D Ultrasound, they send sound waves and reflections from the body to record its echo. The transducer interprets this echo to form a visual image of the baby.
3D Ultrasound is somewhat the same as 2D Ultrasound, just that they record the waves from multiple angles. The doctors convert multiple images produced from different angles into a single one through sophisticated software. This type of ultrasound algorithm process creates images, which are also known as ‘surface rendering’. . This software produces an accurate portrayal of the fetus and shows it on the monitor. These incredible pictures show a detailed image of the baby’s body and face.
The process of 4D Ultrasound is in the same manner, but the images are moving or getting captured per second. So the monitor shows video instead of a still image of the baby.
Who gets the test?
Women who have a low risk of going through any complications go through the ultrasound process just one time. However, those women who have a risk of getting difficulties or chance of conceiving multiple births usually perform more tests. There can be many reasons for getting the test depending upon the trimester. Nevertheless, 3D and 4D ultrasounds are optional.
What the test does?
Like the regular 2D Ultrasound, 3D and 4D Ultrasound also create images by recording the sound waves. But here, the image produced is a three-dimensional image of the baby. And if it is a 4D ultrasound, it will not change a still image; it will turn into a video.
How the test is done?
If you are going for an abdominal Ultrasound, the doctor will ask you to lie down, and the doctor will rub some water-based gel in your belly. This gel helps to transfer the waves from the transducer into and body and returning them. The practitioner will move the device back and forth to create your baby’s image on the screen.
What to Know About Test Results?
After the test is over, you will get a picture or a video copy of the baby to take home with you. The doctor will let you know if there is any defect or if you need to take some precautions.
Make sure that you perform the test only in a medical center by a qualified and experienced practitioner. Ultrasound at a commercial place is not a substitute for the medical center.
3D and 4D Ultrasound Side effects
Although there is no know side effects of the process, it sometimes heats the tissue a little. This heating of the tissue creates gas pockets inside the tissue. So it is advisable to perform the ultrasound activity only when asked by the medical practitioner. There is no research in the past twenty years that suggests that it creates any damage to the mother or the baby, but you should avoid it if possible.
The doctor recommends going for a 3D or 4D Ultrasound between the 26th and 34th week of the pregnancy period. However, you will also be able to get a clear image of the baby anytime after 24 weeks of conceiving the baby.
The benefits of 3D/4D Baby ultrasound
Following are the benefits of the process:
- You will be able to see the live image of your baby’s skin, mouth, or whole surface.
- You can monitor the baby’s size.
- Evaluate his/her movement.
- Confirm the due date.
3D and 4D Ultrasound cost
Going through the process is relatively cheap; it can range from Rs 750 to Rs 3000.
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Dr. Jay Mehta
Fertility and IVF Specialist
Dr. Jay Mehta is the Scientific Director of Shree IVF Clinic. He is a well-known Fertility and IVF Specialist and also among few doctors in the country who specializes in Embryology and Andrology.