When Would I Need an Ultrasound?

An ultrasound, also known as sonography, is an imaging test that healthcare providers use for diagnostic purposes or to direct treatment for various diseases. However, an ultrasound Lake Nona can also be used during pregnancy to screen for potential problems and monitor fetal development. There are multiple reasons why your healthcare provider may recommend an ultrasound during pregnancy. One test is usually enough, but your doctor may order more ultrasounds if they detect a problem in the previous ultrasound.

Sometimes ultrasounds can be done for non-medical reasons, such as providing images to help determine the sex of the baby. While this imaging test is safe for the mother and child, healthcare professionals discourage using ultrasounds for non-medical reasons. Below are the uses of ultrasound during the different pregnancy stages.

First trimester

The first trimester of pregnancy starts from week one to three months. During this early stage of pregnancy, an ultrasound may help confirm if you are pregnant, determine the baby’s gestational age and estimate a due date. The test may also be done to:

  • Check for multiple pregnancies
  • Check the fetal heartbeat
  • Diagnose an ectopic pregnancy
  • Look for abnormal growth in the fetus
  • Examine the uterus, ovaries, placenta, and cervix

Second and third trimesters

The second trimester runs from 12 to 24 weeks and the third trimester from 24 to 40 weeks or birth. During these stages, an ultrasound may be done to:

  • Monitor the growth of the fetus
  • Check for Down syndrome characteristics
  • Examine the fetus for blood flow problems or structural abnormalities
  • Monitor amniotic fluid levels
  • Examine the placenta for problems like placental abruption and placenta previa
  • Measure the length of the cervix
  • Determine if the fetus is getting adequate oxygen
  • Diagnose issues with the uterus and ovaries
  • Confirm an intrauterine death
  • Guide other tests like amniocentesis

How do you prepare for an ultrasound?

Most ultrasound tests require no preparations, but there are a few exceptions. If you are getting an ultrasound earlier in the pregnancy, you need to have a full bladder for your provider to get a clear view of the fetus and your reproductive organs. You will need to drink two to eight glasses of water an hour before the test. You should restrain from urinating, so you arrive at your appointment with a full bladder.

For some scans, such as a gallbladder ultrasound, individuals should not eat or drink for a certain period before the exam. On the day of your appointment, you want to wear loose clothing; you may need to remove jewelry before the test so consider leaving your valuables at home.

What happens during an ultrasound?

Your ultrasound technician applies a clear gel on your abdomen and pelvic area to help the sound waves travel correctly. The gel is water-based, so it should not stain your skin or clothes. Next, the technician places a transducer on your belly and moves it to capture black and white images onto a screen. As the technician captures the images, you may need to move or hold your breath. Finally, the technician checks to see if the captured images are clear before wiping off the gel.

If you have questions about an ultrasound, consult your physician at Contemporary Women’s Care.

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