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Obstetrician clarifies 10 common questions about ultrasound in pregnancy

Fundamental to monitor the baby’s development, identify possible diseases or complications, in addition to observing the health conditions of the pregnant woman, the ultrasound is an apparently simple exam, but which still raises many doubts in future moms. Obstetrician Alberto D’Auria, medical director of Cryopraxis, clarifies the main questions:

1 – What is the importance of the exam?

Ultrasound is essential because, without it, prenatal care would be partial. It makes it possible to know early on if the pregnancy is inside the uterus or if it is a pregnancy in the tube, if there is any deformity such as, for example, a hydatidiform mole, or even if it is a multiple pregnancy, if there is a detachment of the gestational sac and if the embryo is alive or not.

2 – Is it mandatory during pregnancy?

Yup. Ultrasound is an indispensable tool in obstetrics today and has helped a lot in the diagnosis of healthy pregnancy and other complications.

3 – When should the exam be taken for the first time?

As soon as there is news of possible pregnancy, the ultrasound should be done. Bearing in mind that, at four weeks’ gestation, only the gestational sac appears, at five weeks a sketch of the embryo and, at six weeks, the embryo’s heartbeats appear, which, in part, reassures the prognosis of the pregnancy.

4 – How many times should it be done during pregnancy?

We can do up to four ultrasounds. The first will be done to find out if the pregnancy is inside the uterus or in the tubes and if there is a live embryo inside the gestational sac. The second, between eleven and a half and thirteen weeks, which will be the morphology of the first trimester, to study the thickness of the fetal neck to then suspect or not of some chromosomal disease. The other will be the second trimester morphology, performed between 19 and 23 weeks. In this ultrasound, all morphological changes will be looked for and, at the end of the exam, we will have 85% confidence in the results.

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5 – Are there different types of ultrasound?

Yup. The 3D and 4D ultrasounds have a three- and four-dimensional image, respectively, and are used for alterations in which there is a need for intrauterine surgical programming and other complications. Today, this resource is also used to show the baby to the parents during pregnancy.

There is also the feature of Doppler, which is used to evaluate blood vessels of the uterus, umbilical artery, cerebral artery of the fetus. This evaluation is very important, as it can give signs of possible complications of the pregnancy, such as the well-being of the intrauterine fetus, hypertensive diseases of pregnancy, and it can also signal the possibility of premature birth. Doppler often helps us to decide for a cesarean when there is significant fetal distress.

6 – When is it possible to see the sex of the baby?

If the ultrasound is performed close to 13 weeks of gestation, if the position of the fetus is favorable, the sex can already be suspected, but without certainty. At 19 weeks it is already possible to see the sex of the baby.

7 – Are there any contraindications or any cases in which it is not recommended to do so?

There are no contraindications, since the device uses mechanical waves with a speed above 300m per second, which is why it is even called ultrasound. It is 100% safe for both mother and baby.

8 – What diseases can be identified?

Ultrasound can diagnose more than 100 fetal syndromes or other malformations of cardiac, renal, and many other limbs.

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9 – When can parents hear the baby’s heartbeat?

It is possible to hear the heartbeat of the fetus from 11 weeks of gestation, when doing the ultrasound that has doppler transformed into sound.

10 – Even with the ultrasound showing everything normal, can the child be born with a problem that has not been identified?

Yup. Even with the exams showing everything within the normal range, there is still a chance of error, which is around 15%.

Ultrasound is part of prenatal care, a series of exams and care guided by doctors that cannot be dispensed with. Therefore, if you discover that you are pregnant, be sure to do all the tests indicated and follow the medical guidelines.

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