Obstetrical ultrasound provides pictures of an embryo or fetus within a woman’s uterus, as well as the mother’s uterus and ovaries.
A Doppler ultrasound study is usually an integral part of this type of ultrasound examination. Doppler ultrasound is a special ultrasound technique that evaluates blood flow through a blood vessel. In an obstetrical ultrasound, Doppler is used to evaluate blood flow in the umbilical cord or may, in some cases, assess blood flow in the fetus or placenta.
Ultrasound imaging uses a small probe, called a transducer, and gel placed directly on the skin. High-frequency sound waves travel from the probe, through the gel, into the body. The probe collects the sounds that bounce back. A computer uses those sound waves to create the images for the exam.
Ultrasound is painless and non-invasive.
When would I get an Obstetrical Ultrasound?
Your medical provider may recommend an obstetrical ultrasound to:
- establish the presence of a living embryo/fetus
- estimate the age of the pregnancy
- diagnose congenital abnormalities of the fetus
- evaluate the position of the fetus
- evaluate the position of the placenta
- determine if there are multiple pregnancies
- determine the amount of amniotic fluid around the baby
- check for opening or shortening of the cervix
- assess fetal growth
- assess fetal well-being.
What Will I Experience?
For most ultrasound exams, you will lie on your back on an exam table. You may have your position adjusted to either side in order to improve the quality of the images captured during the exam.
An ultrasound technologist will apply a warm water-based gel to the area of the body being studied. The gel will help the transducer make secure contact with the body and eliminate air pockets between the transducer and the skin that can block the sound waves from passing into your body. The transducer is placed on the body and moved back and forth over the area of interest until the desired images are captured.
There is usually no discomfort from pressure as the transducer is pressed against the area being examined. However, if scanning is performed over an area that is tender or sensitive, you may feel some pressure or minor discomfort from the transducer.
Once the exam is complete, the clear ultrasound gel will be wiped off your skin. Any portions that are not wiped off will dry quickly. The ultrasound gel does not usually stain or discolor clothing.
Typically, an obstetric ultrasound takes approximately 30 to 60 minutes to complete.