Modern medicine has made it possible to now keep track of fetal growth progress inside the womb. Congenital anomalies or birth defects, which are structural or functional disorders, can happen during intrauterine life. According to WHO and MOD joint report, 7% of neonatal mortality are due to birth defects and account for 3.3 million deaths for children below 5 years of age. In India, the prevalence of birth defects was around 1.7 million annually in 2016, according to statistics provided by National Institute of Health and Family Welfare (NIHFW), by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India.
But now through obstetric ultrasound imaging or pregnancy ultrasound, doctors can evaluate the baby’s growth and development throughout the pregnancy. This helps in timely diagnosis of any possible problems, so that necessary steps can be taken to protect both the mother and baby’s life.
If you are expecting, it is important to consult a gynecologist in Hyderabad, so that youcan receive the best course of treatment for a smooth pregnancy.
What is Obstetric Ultrasound?
Obstetric ultrasound uses sound waves to produce pictures of an embryo or fetus, within a pregnant mother as well as monitor for all the necessary changes in her ovaries and uterus. The process doesn’t use any ionizing radiation, so there is no risk to the growing fetus.
This non-invasive technique is used by doctors to treat many medical conditions in different organs. But, during pregnancy especially, timely ultrasound imaging is necessary to track the progress of the baby’s growth and also to calculate a due date for the delivery.
High frequency sound waves travel from the ultrasound transducer through the gel into the body. The probe receives the sound that bounces back, which is used by a computer to create images. These images are captured in real-time, so the doctor can see the internal structure of the baby’s organs, movements, detect multiple pregnancies,baby’s heartbeat, length of the cervix, uterine growth and placental growth. A Doppler ultrasound procedure that evaluates blood flow in the fetus, umbilical cord and placenta can also be a part of the process.
How is the Procedure Performed?
The procedure is absolutely painless. For most exams, you will be asked to lie face-up on the exam table, after which the radiologist will apply a water-based gel on the area to be studied. This gel helps the transducer make secure body contact and get rid of air pockets that can create hindrance for the waves to pass on into your body. You might only feel slight pressure on your abdomen as the radiologist moves the transducer probe back and forth till the desired image is produced.
However, in early pregnancy or to get a detailed imaging, the radiologist might opt for a trans-vaginal ultrasound. The patient will be asked to empty their bladder, after which a probe shaped like a speculum will be inserted gently into the mother’s vagina. The probe will be covered with a protective covering and lubricated with a small amount of gel.
This is similar to a gynecological exam, where your feet are bent and wide apart. Expect slight pressure and discomfort as the radiologist maneuvers the speculum to get detailed images of the fetus, ovary and uterus.
After the procedure is over, all the gel will be wiped off from your body. This gel is totally harmless and doesn’t cause any discoloration. All this takes a period of maximum 30 minutes.
Why is Obstetric Ultrasound Important?
A radiologist will analyze the images and share it with your gynecologist. Based on these images, many things can be monitored and diagnosed:
- Establish the presence of a live embryo
- Calculating the age of pregnancy
- Ruling out ectopic pregnancies
- Diagnose congenital anomalies in babies
- Determining multiple pregnancies
- Assessing fetal growth and well-being
- Checking for opening of cervix
- Determining the quantity of amniotic fluid surrounding the baby
- Evaluating position of placenta and the baby
However, know that ultrasound cannot identify all fetal anomalies. If there are signs of any growth defect in the fetus, doctors might opt for further tests to detect the make an accurate assessment.
Obstetric ultrasound has no know risks for the mother and the child. It is necessary to ensure a healthy pregnancy. Be sure to consult a gynecologist in Hyderabad, to understand the schedule of your ultrasounds and their interpretation.