An obstetrical sonogram is a routine procedure performed throughout a pregnancy to evaluate the health and development of the fetus through the use of ultrasound. These images show the movement of the fetus and its heartbeat through real time images. The sounds of blood flowing through the heart and umbilical cord can also be heard during an obstetrical sonogram.
Reasons for an Obstetrical Sonogram
An obstetrical sonogram is performed during pregnancy to monitor the size, age, health and position of the fetus. Pregnant women will undergo several sonograms throughout the course of pregnancy to ensure that the fetus is growing at a healthy rate with no serious complications.
An obstetrical ultrasound can be used to:
- Confirm the patient is pregnant
- Check if there is more than one pregnancy
- Estimate the age of the embryo or fetus
- Asses the embryo or fetus and its well-being
- Diagnose any abnormalities during the pregnancy
The Obstetrical Sonogram Procedure
Patients undergoing an obstetrical sonogram should wear loose clothing that allows for the lower abdominal area to be easily exposed. They may be asked to drink up to six glasses of water and not empty their bladder before the procedure so that images of the uterus can be easily obtained. This is especially important during the first few months of pregnancy, but may not be required later on.
The sonographer may decide a transvaginal ultrasound is more appropriate for the patient, depending on the stage of the pregnancy. But if an obstetrical sonogram is done, the patient will lie down on an exam table and a clear gel will be applied to the skin of the lower abdominal area to allow for smooth contact with the transducer. The transducer is then moved back and forth across the skin to receive the sound waves of the body and convert them into images that can be viewed on a computer screen in real time. Still images are also taken to be thoroughly reviewed by the doctor. The obstetrical sonogram procedure takes about 30 minutes to perform.
The Benefits of an Obstetrical Sonogram
An obstetrical sonogram is a noninvasive procedure that is easy to perform at the doctor's office. It has been used for more than 40 years to monitor the fetus during pregnancy, with no harm to the patient or fetus. This procedure provides detailed information throughout the course of the pregnancy that helps the doctor ensure a safe and comfortable pregnancy, labor and delivery.