Fetal Ultrasound Risks

Ultrasound procedures are performed to assess various aspects of a pregnancy. In the recent years, with the technological advancements, the results of ultrasounds have helped to accurately determine the progress of pregnancy. Fetal ultrasounds are suggested in the early pregnancy to determine the existence of a live fetus, viability of the pregnancy and ectopic pregnancy. It is a way of creating images of the fetus to determine and identify the progression of the pregnancy.The most important reason for a fetal ultrasound is to check for any abnormalities or growth defects in the fetus. During the ultrasound, the heartbeat of the fetus, the physical growth of the fetus, surrounding conditions like placement of placenta, adequacy of amniotic fluid and position of the fetus is checked. Other assessments, such as abnormalities of the gestational sac, uterus or any malformations in the uterus are also checked.

What are the Common Risks Associated with Fetal Ultrasound?

The risks encountered in a fetal ultrasound are usually mild discomfort and slight cramping. There are no major risks or side effects involved in fetal ultrasound.

There have been few theories suggesting that the energy used while performing fetal ultrasound can bring about birth defects or damage to the nervous system of the fetus. The cause is thought to be sudden rise in temperature or the vibrations during fetal ultrasound. Another possible risk that can happen is pre-term birth or restricted growth of the fetus. Although these theories have not been proven, it is strongly recommended to get fetal ultrasound done by a trained professional for safe and best results.

What are the Common Risks Associated with Fetal Ultrasound?

What are the Different Ways in Which the Fetal Ultrasound Can Be Done?

Ultrasound can be performed in two ways: abdominally and transvaginally. In abdominal ultrasound, an imaging device called probe is moved over the abdomen to capture images of the uterus and fetus. In transvaginal ultrasound the probe is slightly inserted into the vagina to capture images of the uterus and the fetus. Both the types of ultrasounds are considered to be safe as there is no involvement of radiation, surgical process or needle insertion.

How Safe is Fetal Ultrasound?

Fetal ultrasound is generally safe and does not affect the fetus or the mother in any way. The devices used to perform the ultrasound send sound waves to capture the images of the uterus. The energy emitted by these sound waves does not damage the fetus in anyway. The only effects of fetal ultrasound include slight discomfort from the insertion of the probe in transvaginal ultrasound or allergy to the lubricant gel or the latex covering used during the ultrasound. Fetal ultrasound has gained a lot of popularity as it gives accurate results to detect the progress of the pregnancy and identify any potential defects in the fetus. It is essential to get fetal ultrasound done from a trained professional so that any other risks can be avoided. The trained professional appropriately knows the way of using the equipment in fetal ultrasound such that it least harms the mother or her fetus and keeps both of them safe and sound throughout the procedure.

What is the Need for Fetal Ultrasound?

Fetal Ultrasound is a routine followed to keep a check on the progression of the pregnancy over the nine months. It is a safe and low risk procedure that renders important information about the fetus and the pregnancy. The fetal ultrasound scans and checks the head, abdomen, stomach, arms, legs, brain, heart and heart chambers, heart valves, kidneys, umbilical cord and spine for their proper and timely growth in the womb. Apart from these, fetal ultrasound also helps to determine the placement of placenta in the uterus to identify the occurrence of a condition called placenta previa. It is essential to make sure there is adequate amniotic fluid in the gestational sac, which can be determined by a fetal ultrasound scan. In addition to identifying any growth abnormalities, the fetal ultrasound also renders information such as existence of more than one live fetus in the uterus.

Identification of Growth Abnormalities by Fetal Ultrasound

Fetal ultrasound involves use of energy waves for capturing images of the uterus and fetus. At times, due to poor nutrition or other external or internal factors, the fetal development can be restricted causing growth abnormalities. A fetal ultrasound shows accurate and clear image of the growth of various body parts of the fetus and then compared to the gestational age, the same are checked for proper growth. Parts of the body like arms, legs, spinal cord, face, nose and ears are checked for their proper growth according to the gestational age. In addition to these, the fetal heart is checked for it proper functioning and the development of the heart vessels, valves and chambers. If any abnormality is found during the fetal ultrasound, the doctor suggests proper care or treatment for the same.

Does Fetal Ultrasound Help in Assessment of Brain Development and Abnormalities of the Fetus?

Fetal ultrasound checks for the proper development of the brain and occurrence of any abnormality in the fetus. If the brain development is restricted, the fetus can be born with issues like autism or Down syndrome. The pre determination of such conditions is done so that proper treatment measures or care is taken before the birth of the fetus. While some believe that frequent ultrasounds can bring about such conditions, there is no proof that fetal ultrasound is unsafe.

Fetal Ultrasound: CONCLUSION

To make sure that the growth of the pregnancy is consistent and according to the gestational age, fetal ultrasound greatly benefits this determination. The images captured during the fetal ultrasound takes into account the physical growth of the fetus and checks for any abnormalities in the fetus. Although there is no major risk involved in fetal ultrasound, certain hygienic measures need to be taken to avoid any infections or discomfort. It is also essential to seek the intervention of trained professionals to perform the ultrasound for accurate and proper results.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 20, 2017

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