What to Expect in a Fetal Ultrasound Exam

Who performs the exam?
The exam will likely be performed by a sonographer or a physician.

Where will it take place?
Your ultrasound exam can take place in your obstetrician's office, in the Radiology department of a local hospital or at an imaging center. Your physician will instruct you accordingly.

How does it work?
For an abdominal scan, ultrasound gel is applied to the belly. An ultrasound transducer is then used to send sound waves into the body. A vaginal ultrasound is where an ultrasound probe transducer is gently placed inside the woman's vagina (but outside her cervix), covered by a plastic sheath similar to a condom. This method is often used during early pregnancy because it allows the ultrasonographer to look more closely and give a clearer picture. The sound waves are interpreted by the transducer and ultrasound machine to display 2D images and 3D/4D volumes. You may feel some pressure on your abdomen as the clinician moves the transducer.

Also, although a 4D Ultrasound exam has slightly different technology, you should not anticipate a longer exam. (Exam times vary, but a typical exam lasts approximately 30-50 minutes)

What should I do when I make my appointment? 
As an expectant mother, you want the best care possible. When scheduling your ultrasound exam:
1) Ask your healthcare provider if you need to prepare for the exam, i.e. fast, full bladder, etc
2) Ask who is performing the exam and if it's not a physician, ask if a physician will be reviewing the results. Please be aware that there are facilities which provide ultrasound images and videos solely for entertainment purposes, which contradicts the guidelines of the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine. GE supports the AIUM guidelines for nonmedical use of ultrasound. For clinical results regarding the health of your fetus, be sure the ultrasound results are reviewed by a physician. 
3) Ask if you can get a CD/DVD, VHS tape, or pictures from the exam. Often clinicians will provide these to patients but you may have to bring your own CD/DVD or tape.

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