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It is important to verify your pregnancy with an Ultrasound. The Ultrasound will evaluate 3 important aspects of the pregnancy:
- Determine if the pregnancy is inside the uterus. A pregnancy outside of the uterus is a life-threatening situation which requires immediate medical attention.
- Determine how far along the pregnancy and gestational age of the fetus.
- Looks for signs of viability including baby’s heartbeat.
What is an Obstetrical Ultrasound?An ultrasound, or sonogram, is a routine part of prenatal care in which the sonographer is able to see inside the body. A hand-held transducer is pressed against the skin and sends high-pitch sound waves that humans are unable to hear. The sound waves bounce off internal organs and structures and are received by the transducer. The machine constantly translates the sound waves into images on the monitor. This allows real-time viewing of what is happening inside the body, including viewing fetal heartbeat and movements.
What can I expect before, during, and after the procedure?There is no special preparation for your ultrasound exam. A specially trained sonographer will ask you a few questions relating to your pregnancy before the exam begins. Most ultrasounds are fast and easy, with little discomfort. After you are positioned on the examination table, the sonographer will apply some warm gel on your skin. The transducer will be held firmly against your skin and is moved back and forth over your lower abdomen until the desired images are captured. Often in early pregnancy, a vaginal ultrasound is performed to obtain clearer images. A protective cover is placed over a special transducer and lubricated with a small amount of gel. The transducer is inserted into the vagina by the examiner, or you may be asked to insert it as you would a tampon. The sonographer will then obtain the desired images. The pictures and report will then be reviewed by our medical doctor. After a limited ultrasound exam, you should be able to resume your normal activities immediately.
Is Ultrasound Safe?
There are no known harmful effects associated with the medical use of ultrasound. According to the FDA, ultrasound imaging has been used for over 20 years and has an excellent safety record. It is based on non-ionizing radiation, so it does not have the same risks as X-rays or other types of imaging systems that use ionizing radiation.
The American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine, an association of physicians, sonographers, scientists, and engineers, has a Bio-effects committee that meet regularly to consider the bioeffects and safety of ultrasound. They have adopted the following statement:
“There are no known harmful effects associated with the medical use of sonography. Widespread clinical use of diagnostic ultrasound for many years has not revealed any harmful effects. Studies in humans have revealed no direct link between the use of diagnostic ultrasound and any adverse outcome. Although the possibility exists that biological effects may be identified in the future, current information indicates that the benefits to patients far outweigh the risks, if any.”
Although pregnancy tests are very accurate, they do not guarantee that you have a viable pregnancy. The only way to find out for sure is to have an ultrasound. Regardless of which option you are considering for your pregnancy, it is important to have an ultrasound.