Obstetric Ultrasound Appointments (<14) in


Obstetric Ultrasound (<14 Weeks)

Obstetric ultrasounds are diagnostic imaging scans used to produce images of a developing fetus in a pregnant woman, as well as the uterus and ovaries.

Ultrasounds are minimally invasive procedures that provide a wide range of health information to health care providers. Unlike X-Rays or CT scans, ultrasound scans can show images moving in real-time, giving doctors a firsthand look into the movement of organs and tissue in the body. To study blood moving through blood vessels, doctors may use specialized Doppler ultrasound sonography to examine blood flow through the internal organs by pinging sound waves off moving blood cells.

Obstetricians use the images produced by an ultrasound to monitor the health of an unborn baby, as well as the health of the mother.

Ultrasounds are a non-invasive imaging technique that allows doctors to get a vantage point of the health of an unborn baby and the mother without surgery or exposure to ionizing radiation (present in X-ray scans).

Obstetric ultrasounds performed during the 1st trimester of pregnancy can help doctors:

  • Confirm a pregnancy
  • Evaluate the baby’s growth and size
  • Determine the baby’s gestational age (this indicates how long the fetus has been developing, which may help establish a due date)
  • Detect an ectopic pregnancy (a developing pregnancy located outside of the uterus)
  • Detect and confirm a multiple pregnancy
  • Evaluate the health of the placenta (the organ that provides a developing fetus oxygen and nutrients as it develops)
  • Evaluate the amniotic fluid (the fluid that surrounds a fetus in the womb)
  • Identify birth defects
  • Examine and diagnose complications (such as irregular bleeding)
  • Examine the cervix, uterus, ovaries, and bladder for complications or abnormalities

Ultrasounds are performed for medical reasons. Even though they do produce images of an unborn baby, these appointments are not intended to provide parents with keepsake pictures of their developing baby. If you would like an ultrasound for reassurance about the development of your baby, you may ask your health care provider or obstetrician about scheduling an ultrasound.

Consult your doctor about the specific preparation for your ultrasound. Depending on where you are at in your pregnancy, you may require a transabdominal (over the skin of the abdomen) or transvaginal ultrasound. Transvaginal ultrasounds are generally performed in the first trimester of pregnancy, while transabdominal imaging is done in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters.

Transabdominal obstetric ultrasounds may require that you drink 24-30 ounces of water an hour before the exam. After you drink this water, it is imperative that you do not use the restroom. Drinking water fills the bladder, making images of the area clearer during the ultrasound scan.

Transvaginal ultrasounds do not require a full bladder. Ask your doctor about specific preparation needed for this type of testing.

No other preparation is required. You will be asked to remove all metallic items from your person such as jewelry, piercings, eyeglasses, and dentures. Because of this, it is usually recommended that you leave most of these items (specifically jewelry and piercings) at home on the day of your appointment.

After drinking 24-30 oz of water, you will be asked to change out of your street clothes and into a hospital gown.

In the exam room, you will be asked to lie on your back on a padded table. Your doctor will use a hand-held device known as a transducer, which directs high-frequency sound waves into the tissue being studied. After the area is gelled (gel helps conduct the ultrasound waves), the transducer is placed against the skin for imaging. If you are undergoing a transvaginal ultrasound, the transducer will be gently inserted into the vagina. The device will be covered in gel and a plastic or latex sheathe. You may experience some mild discomfort as the transducer is inserted into the vagina, but this should pass after a few moments.

As the sound waves echo off the tissue of internal tissue and organs, the transducer sends data to a computer that records the feedback and creates images. You may be asked to hold your breath for several seconds as images are being taken.

This procedure usually takes about 30 minutes. Unless further testing is needed, most individuals are free to resume daily activities after their ultrasound.

After your appointment, a radiologist will review the images produced by the exam. They will then present any findings to your health care provider, who will pass on the results to you. This may take 1-3 business days, depending on the clinic. Depending on what the images show, you may not need to schedule a follow-up appointment. However, if your obstetrician identifies any possible complications or abnormalities around your pregnancy, you may be asked to book an appointment for further testing and evaluation.

Yes. Ultrasounds are non-invasive exams that provide real-time imaging of blood flow and organs in the body. Unlike X-rays, ultrasound does not use ionizing radiation. Instead, ultrasounds use sound waves (too high-pitched for humans to hear) to give doctors real-time images of organs and tissues. The transducer used by the sonographer might be a little cold, but that's it.

Ultrasounds are generally less expensive than other forms of imaging. They do not require injections, nor is sedation needed for the procedure. These are quick and painless exams that usually take under an hour. After your appointment, you will likely be cleared to leave and go about your daily activities.

If you have any questions about different types of imaging, talk to your health care provider about the method that is right for you.

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