The overwhelmingly large mouthful ‘Obstetric Ultrasound’ simply refers to the process of using ultrasound scans during and throughout pregnancy. The process was first used and introduced as a public and acceptable practice in the late 1950’s, and has since become arguably one of the most useful diagnostic tools and practices on Obstetrics.
Technology has evolved since its introduction, and varying machines and instruments have been used till date. In the present day, real time scanners are used to capture a continuous picture of the ever moving fetus. This image of the fetus can be depicted on a monitor or screen in real time. This is made possible using extremely high frequency sound waves that can reach up to 7.0, aka 7 million cycles every second. These high frequencies are emitted from what is known as a transducer, in plain terms; a transmitting machine. This transducer is placed in contact with the woman’s abdomen and moved around to help her and others see or get a good look at the content of the uterus. It is almost like shining a flashlight into a dark room. Ultrasound beams scan the fetus and reflect back in small pieces to make a whole picture of the unborn baby. Essentially, the transducer sends and receives the signals and it is the brains behind the whole operation.
The small pieces of the picture that are received are recomposed into a logical image on a monitor or screen. This image is referred to as a sonogram or an ultrasonogram. The image in real time is an excellent way to monitor fetal heartbeat and assess the growth, development, issues and other information about the fetus. The sonogram helps doctors determine the age, size, gender and growth of the fetus.
It is often required that the woman in question have a full bladder in order to successfully undergo the process and obtain a clear and concise image. Other than discomfort on the full bladder and the odd feeling of cold, wet gel on one’s belly, there is no pain or danger involved in the process.