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Ultrasound Imaging - Obstetrical

Last updated Nov. 28, 2018

yanalya - Freepik

The Pregnancy Ultrasound Scan radiology procedure is used to evaluate the well-being of a fetus, while in the uterus and to check for any congenital deformities.


Background Information:

What are the other Names for the Procedure?

  • Obstetrical Ultrasound Imaging Procedure
  • Obstetrical USG Procedure
  • Pregnancy Ultrasound Scan

What is Pregnancy Ultrasound Scan radiology procedure? (General Explanation)

  • Ultrasound imaging is a noninvasive procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce real-time images. The procedure can be used to show movement of internal organs and blood flowing through blood vessels
  • Obstetrical Ultrasound Imaging Procedure is used to evaluate the well-being of a fetus, while in the uterus and to check for any congenital deformities
  • Using this technique, blood flow in the umbilical cord can be visualized too

What part of the Body does the Procedure involve?

An Obstetric Ultrasound Scan involves the abdominal and genital region of a woman.

Why is the Pregnancy Ultrasound Scan radiology procedure Performed?

An Obstetrical Ultrasound Imaging Procedure is performed to diagnose various medical conditions, such as:

  • Evaluate the well-being of fetus, while it is in the mother’s womb
  • Diagnose congenital abnormalities
  • Estimate age of pregnancy, or of the fetus
  • Evaluate position of placenta and fetus
  • Estimate growth of the fetus
  • To determine possibility of multiple pregnancies
  • To check proper attachment of the umbilical cord

What is the Equipment used? (Description of Equipment)

The equipment for ultrasound imaging consists of:

  • An ultrasound transducer
  • A computer monitor
  • A central processing unit
  • A printer

A transducer is used to send high-frequency sound waves in the body and the computer creates the image based on the echoes of that sound returning from the patient’s body.

What are the Recent Advances in the Procedure?

There have been no recent advances in the field of the Obstetrical Ultrasound Imaging Procedure.

What is the Cost of performing the Pregnancy Ultrasound Scan radiology procedure?

The cost of the Obstetrical Ultrasound Imaging Procedure depends on a variety of factors, such as the type of your health insurance, annual deductibles, co-pay requirements, out-of-network and in-network of your healthcare providers and healthcare facilities.

In many cases, an estimate may be provided before the procedure. The final amount depends upon the findings during the surgery/procedure and post-operative care that is necessary.

When do you need a Second Opinion, prior to the Procedure?

  • It is normal for a patient to feel uncomfortable and confused with a sudden inflow of information regarding the Obstetrical USG Procedure and what needs to be done
  • If the patient needs further reassurance or a second opinion, a physician will almost always assist in recommending another physician
  • Also, if the procedure involves multiple steps or has many alternatives, the patient may take a second opinion to understand and choose the best one. They can also choose to approach another physician independently

What are some Helpful Resources?

http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=genus (accessed on 10/16/14)

Prior to Pregnancy Ultrasound Scan radiology procedure:

How does the Pregnancy Ultrasound Scan radiology procedure work?

An Obstetrical Ultrasound Imaging Procedure works in the following manner:

  • The ultrasound procedure works on similar principles used in sonar by submarines, to determine the size and shape of the object and how far away the object is
  • The transducer sends out high frequency sound waves in the body. When sound waves echo back from the body, the microphone in the transducer records the changes in the sound
  • And using the changes in the sound, it is possible to determine the shape, size, or any other changes in the structure of the organ
  • Using the change in the echoed sound, a computer produces a picture in real-time on the screen
  • Doppler ultrasound is used to determine the direction and speed of the blood cells

How is the Pregnancy Ultrasound Scan radiology procedure Performed?

An Obstetrical Ultrasound Imaging Procedure is performed in the following manner:

  • The patient lies face-up on the table
  • A water-based gel is applied on the area of interest so that the transducer can have better contact with the area and air pockets are eliminated between the transducer and body
  • A sonographer puts the transducer on the body and moves it around the area of interest to capture the desired image 
  • Transvaginal ultrasound, if needed, involves placing patient with legs on stirrups, in a position similar to that during a gynecological examination; the transducer is then inserted into the vagina, to obtain images

Where is the Procedure Performed?

An Obstetric Ultrasound Scan is performed either as an outpatient or inpatient procedure, at a hospital.

Who Performs the Procedure?

An ultrasound technician performs the procedure under the supervision of a radiologist.

How long will the Procedure take?

An Obstetrical Ultrasound Imaging Procedure will take about 30 minutes.

Who interprets the Result?

A radiologist interprets the results of the Obstetric Ultrasound Scan.

What Preparations are needed, prior to the Procedure?

The following preparations may be needed prior to an Obstetrical USG Procedure:

  • The physician may evaluate the individual’s medical history to gain a comprehensive knowledge of the overall health status of the patient, including information related to the medications that are being currently taken
  • Do inform the medical professional if you have a history of any medical conditions, such as a heart disease, asthma, diabetes, or kidney disease
  • Do inform the medical professional about any allergies, especially related to barium or iodinated contrast material, which may be used in the procedure
  • The ultrasound is not recommended, if the patient had had barium enema or GI tests in the past 2 days
  • It is advisable to wear comfortable and loose clothes. Avoid wearing any metal objects or jewelry, as it may interfere with the scan
  • It is highly recommended to inform your healthcare professional, if you are breastfeeding
  • For some specific tests related to the aorta, gallbladder, spleen, liver, or pancreas, the patient may be asked to avoid eating for 8-12 hours before the test
  • Depending on the procedure adopted, the patient may be asked for certain bowel or bladder preparations, before the preparation sessions
  • For some other tests, the patient may be asked to drink about 6 glasses of water, 2 hours prior to the examination and avoid urinating, in order to keep the bowel full, during the exam

What is the Consent Process before the Procedure?

  • A physician will request your consent for the Obstetrical Ultrasound Imaging Procedure using an Informed Consent Form
  • Consent for the Procedure: A “consent” is your approval to undergo a procedure. A consent form is signed after the risks and benefits of the procedure, and alternative treatment options, are discussed. This process is called informed consent
  • You must sign the forms only after you are totally satisfied by the answers to your questions. In case of minors and individuals unable to personally give their consent, the individual’s legal guardian or next of kin, shall give their consent for the procedure

What are the Benefits versus Risks, for this Procedure?

Following are the benefits of an Obstetric Ultrasonography:

  • The ultrasound scan does not involve the use of any ionizing radiation
  • The Pregnancy Ultrasound Scan provides important information about the pregnancy and well-being of the fetus, without causing any harm to the mother and the fetus
  • Ultrasound imaging is noninvasive, inexpensive, quick, and simple
  • The procedure captures clear images of soft tissues in real-time
  • The procedure can be used in needle biopsies or needle aspiration. 

Following are the risks of an Obstetric Ultrasonography:

  • Generally none

What are the Limitations of the Pregnancy Ultrasound Scan radiology procedure?

An Obstetric Ultrasonography cannot help identify all the abnormalities in a fetus. An amniocentesis or chorionic villi sampling may be required, to further identify these abnormalities.

What are some Questions for your Physician?

Some of the basic questions that you might ask your healthcare provider or physician are as follows:

  • What is an Obstetrical Ultrasound Imaging Procedure?
  • Why is this procedure necessary? How will it help?
  • How soon should I get it done? Is it an emergency?
  • Who are the medical personnel involved in this procedure?
  • Where is the procedure performed?
  • What are the risks while performing the procedure?
  • What are the complications that might take place, during recovery?
  • What are the possible side effects from the procedure? How can I minimize these side effects?
  • How long will it take to recover? When can I resume normal work?
  • How many such procedures have you (the physician) performed?
  • Are there any follow-up tests, periodic visits to the healthcare facility required, after the procedure?
  • What are the costs involved?

During the Pregnancy Ultrasound Scan radiology procedure:

What is to be expected during the Pregnancy Ultrasound Scan radiology procedure?

The following may be expected from an Obstetrical USG Procedure:

  • The test does not cause any pain
  • The table you lie on may feel hard, and the room may be cool
  • It may be difficult to lie still during the test
  • The technician may have to push harder with the transducer, to identify certain body parts, which may cause slight discomfort for the patient
  • Patient may feel some discomfort, if the transducer is inserted into the vagina, during a transvaginal ultrasound scan
  • Some individuals may feel nervous during the ultrasound scan
  • The healthcare professional will help you during the procedure for optimum images

What kind of Anesthesia is given, during the Procedure?

Anesthesia is rarely used during the Obstetrical Ultrasound Imaging Procedure.

How much Blood will you lose, during the Procedure?

Since the procedure is a minimally-invasive one, the blood loss involved during the procedure is minimal.

What are the possible Risks and Complications during the Pregnancy Ultrasound Scan radiology procedure?

There are no known risks associated with an Obstetrical Ultrasound Imaging Procedure.

What Post-Operative Care is needed at the Healthcare Facility after the Pregnancy Ultrasound Scan radiology procedure?

No specific post-operative care is needed at the healthcare facility after the procedure.

After the Pregnancy Ultrasound Scan radiology procedure:

What is to be expected after the Pregnancy Ultrasound Scan radiology procedure?

  • The Obstetrical USG Procedure is completely painless, noninvasive, and there is no discomfort involved
  • Some discomfort may be felt, if the device is inserted into the vagina
  • The patient may resume their normal activities immediately after the procedure

When do you need to call your Physician?

If the patient is experiencing an allergic reaction from the gel; then, do contact the physician.

What Post-Operative Care is needed at Home after the Pregnancy Ultrasound Scan radiology procedure?

No specific post-operative care is needed at home after the procedure.

How long does it normally take to fully recover, from the Procedure?

The patient needs no recovery time, after the Obstetrical USG Procedure.

Additional Information:

What happens to tissue (if any), taken out during the Procedure?

The Ultrasound Obstetrical Imaging Procedure does not involve the removal of any body tissue.

When should you expect results from the pathologist regarding tissue taken out, during the Procedure?

Since no tissue is removed during the procedure, a pathologist does not get involved in the care of the patient.

Who will you receive a Bill from, after the Pregnancy Ultrasound Scan radiology procedure?

It is important to note that the number of bills that the patient may receive depends on the arrangement the healthcare facility has with the physician and other healthcare providers.

Sometimes, the patient may get a single bill that includes the healthcare facility and the consultant physician charges. Sometimes, the patient might get multiple bills depending on the healthcare provider involved. For instance, the patient may get a bill from:

  • The hospital, where the procedure is performed
  • Healthcare providers, physicians, and radiologists, who are involved in the process

The patient is advised to inquire and confirm the type of billing, before the Ultrasound Obstetrical Imaging Procedure is performed.

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Oct. 21, 2014
Last updated: Nov. 28, 2018