Although they are used for a wide variety of diagnostic purposes, ultrasounds are known to most people for monitoring the health and development of pregnancies.
The Science Behind How Ultrasound Works
Ultrasounds use high-frequency soundwaves that are too high for the human ear to pick up at 20,000 Hz.
The frequency creates sound waves that are targeted at specific body parts and, as Independent Imaging describes it, “Much like bats flying in the dark, the soundwaves create a fluid digital image of underlying body structures such as organs.”
Ultrasounds are helpful for monitoring the growth and health of a fetus and for detecting whether or not the pregnancy is ectopic, meaning it is located outside of the uterus.
Ectopic pregnancies are dangerous to the mother and require immediate medical attention.
What to Expect if You Get an Ultrasound
If you decide to get an ultrasound, this exam will be conducted by a trained technician, called a sonographer.
WebMD Magazine states that there are two ways to get a prenatal ultrasound: over your belly (transabdominal) or transvaginally (into your vagina).
For a transabdominal exam you will need to come in with a full bladder as this tilts your uterus for the best imaging. The sonographer will apply gel on a device called a transducer which is slowly moved across your belly, releasing sound waves that will bounce off of the baby’s skeleton and organs, creating the sonogram image.
If it’s very early in the first trimester of your pregnancy, a transvaginal ultrasound may be done to get the most accurate images. Similar to a pap smear, a transvaginal exam requires you to undress and put your feet in stirrups. The sonographer places a sheath over the transducer, adds lubricant, and then has you guide it into your vagina, where the sound waves will then create the sonogram image.
How to Schedule an Ultrasound
Ultrasounds are very safe, and the results of the scan give you important information about fetal growth and health as well as your various pregnancy options.