The Differences Between 2D, 3D, and 4D Ultrasounds Explained

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While trained medical professionals have become adept at recognizing features of the developing fetus in 2D, parents are better able to visualize the baby with the advent of 3D and 4D ultrasonography.
Ultrasound scans, also known as sonograms, use the reflection of high-frequency sound waves to create images. The standard 2D obstetric ultrasound shows a flat, black and white picture on a screen. 2D ultrasounds can be done during any trimester, but are often performed early in gestation to confirm the pregnancy and to help establish the due date. This scan is usually repeated at 18-20 weeks of gestation to check for normal growth and development, and to reveal the sex of the baby if desired. While trained medical professionals have become adept at recognizing features of the developing fetus in 2D, parents are better able to visualize the baby with the advent of 3D ultrasonography. A 3D ultrasound creates a different perspective by merging a series of 2D images taken from various angles into a composite to form a 3D picture. Because of this increased resolution and visibility, 3D ultrasounds capture a more detailed and realistic representation of the developing baby. Because 3D ultrasounds allow us to view more subtle features they are helpful in the diagnosis of cleft lip, cleft palate, and heart conditions, and give parents the unique opportunity to see their baby’s face for the very first time. 4D ultrasound adds the dimension of time, providing a live video of the baby in action: kicking, stretching, yawning, sucking their thumb, opening and closing their eyes. 4D ultrasound brings a static image to life. Do you see what I see? A baby is not alive because it is born. It is born because it is alive.

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