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3D and 4D ultrasound examinations

3D and 4D ultrasound examination during pregnancy

Any woman who expects a child is worried about its development. A foetal ultrasound examination allows to study it the most accurately.

Of late, a new ultrasound diagnostic method, i.e. the 3D/4D US diagnostics has become ever more popular among patients and doctors as it offers more diagnostic opportunities, but still is as safe and secure as before. At iVF Riga, it is possible to have a 3D/4D examination.

How do 3D and 4D ultrasound (USG) examinations differ in pregnant women?

  • 2D USG standard examination during the pregnancy to determine the pregnancy status, delivery time, foetal development, placenta and umbilical cord condition.
  • 3D USG static 3D images of the child that look like photos.
  • 4D USG animated 3D images that you can view in real time. If you would like to have a 4D USG examination, the recording can be saved on various media.

2D examination allows to generate only standard photos. In 3D USG, the image is different. First, it is coloured and 3D; second, you can see all features of your child. Even its mouth or nose shape, how it yawns or sticks its tongue out; and you can even try to guess if it is more like the mom or the dad. This examination is as safe as the traditional USG, as it is composed of 2D segments collated into one image.

From the medical point of view, 3D and 4D images may show more detail in already diagnosed developmental pathologies. A spatial image allows to better see various structures from various angles. It is not possible in the regular 2D mode. It may help doctors in duly preparing a post-natal treatment plan for the child. 3D USG may be effective in examining limbs, face, spine, heart and other internal organs.

In which cases 3D/4D ultrasound (USG) examinations are performed in pregnant women?

In pregnancy care, 3D/4D USG is used as an auxiliary method, namely, this examination supplements, but does not exclude the standard 2D USG screening used in prenatal diagnostics together with biochemistry blood tests (screening).

If you wish to have a 3D or a 4D examination, you have to make a private appointment.

3D/4D examinations have several limitations related to the pregnancy term, foetal position, etc. 3D/4D USG is best performed from Week 26 to Week 30 of the pregnancy. Until Week 26, your child’s subcutaneous fat layer is too thin that will make the cranial bones visible through the skin and you will not be able to see the surface layers. But after Week 30 your child’s head may be positioned lower in the pelvis and you may not see the child’s face. The regular 2D USG examination takes 15 to 30 minutes, but for the 3D you will need more time: from 45 to 50 minutes.

Is the child’s face always visible during a 3D/4D ultrasound (USG) examination?

It is very natural to wish to see your child’s face, but this opportunity will greatly depend on the foetal position. If the child faces you stomach and there is enough amniotic fluid around it, most probably, you will clearly see your child’s face. However, if the child turns its back towards the USG probe or is surrounded by a small amount of amniotic fluid, or if you have a dense layer of abdominal fat, you will not be able to see the child’s face — just its back and fingers and toes.

Sometimes, the ultrasound specialist may ask you to go for a walk or return in a week when the child has taken a more convenient position.

In some cases, the temptation to see the child is accompanied by medical indications for a 3D ultrasound. However, frequency of USG examinations should be reasonable, and you have to know why and for which indications a 3D USG is performed. In addition to USG, there are other methods for controlling the intra-uterine foetal condition and development.


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