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Ultrasound and Fetal Medicine

What is Ultrasound?
It is a diagnostic imaging technique using the ultrasound technology to see internal body structures like tendons, muscles etc. Obstetric Ultrasound is used to examine pregnant mothers to identify for conditions that may prove harmful for the mother and the baby.

The obstetric Ultrasound is primarily used to:

  • Determine date of pregnancy
  • Confirm fetal viability
  • Determine location of fetus, whether intrauterine or ectopic
  • Check the placenta’s location with respect to the cervix
  • Check for the number of fetuses for multiple pregnancies.
  • Inspect if the baby has any physical abnormalities
  • Estimate the fetal growth
  • Check for movement and heartbeat of the fetus
  • Determine the baby’s gender

What is Fetal Medicine?
It is a branch of medicine focusing on managing the health concerns of the mother and the fetus before, during and shortly after the pregnancy.

These specialists are within the field of Obstetrics. They perform pre-natal tests, provide treatments and perform surgeries. They might be asked to be primary obstetrician during high-risk pregnancies. After birth, they might work closely with pediatricians or neonatologists.

Fetal Medicine and Ultrasound
A pregnant mother usually has to undergo the following exams during her pregnancy:

  • First Trimester Ultrasound
    In the first trimester or the first 3 months of pregnancy, this exam is done to estimate:
    • Gestational age or the duration of pregnancy
    • Heartbeat of the baby
    • Perform a basic survey depending on the gestational age.

It would be helpful if the mother’s bladder were nearly full.

  • Nuchal Translucency Measurement
    The fluid in the back of the baby’s neck is measured to screen for any chromosomal abnormalities like Down syndrome.

It would be helpful if the mother’s bladder were nearly full.

  • Detailed Anatomy or Level 2 Ultrasound
    This is done in the 2nd trimester to get a detailed view of the baby’s internal organ systems and their measurements. This exam tells us of the baby’s development.

The mother need not have a full bladder for the 2nd or 3rd trimester exams.

  • Fetal Echocardiography
    A detailed examination of the baby’s heart is done using the fetal echocardiography. The heart’s chambers, valves and vessels are examined. This examination is not performed on all babies, usually for babies who are at risk of heart malformations.

The mother need not have a full bladder for this exam.

  • Biophysical Profile and Non-Stress Test
    The doctor might suggest this test in the 3rd trimester to make sure the baby is not under stress. The Non-stress test monitors the baby’s heart rate and activity. The Biophysical Profile test is an ultrasound that evaluates
    • The amniotic fluid
    • Fetal tone
    • Breathing
    • Activity

Doctors might suggest either or both the tests.

Please do consult with our Obstetrics and Gynaecology department for more information regarding the scans.

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