Ob-Gyn questions? Ask a gynecologist online.
Hello, I'm Dr Manos MD, board certified Obgyn. The value of ultrasound far exceeds any suggestions that it could be detrimental to the fetus. Real time ultrasound arrived within a small yellow box with a small screen in about 1978. All of a sudden, we were seeing the fetus with well defined anatomy, placental morphology and it transformed obstetrics. We are talking almost forty years and no definitive studies have raised any significant findings. There was a small screen and the hand held transducers to emit sound and record the echoes coming back. I bought one of the first models for a mere $4000. Boy has that changed. You could measure bony elements of the fetus but there was little if any software. I had a radio shack calculator and I programmed formulas developed by specialists to translate things like femur lengths to gestational age. There wasn't even a camera for the unit. I had a photo hobby store take a Polaroid camera and build a hood that fit over the 14 inch screen to take a picture. There will be more ultrasounds toward the latter weeks of the pregnancy to avoid surprises. Like I said, it's been around as long as I've been doing obstetrics and nothing relevant has come about.
The average number of ultrasounds has been well above 2-3 per patient for the last 30 years. With the advent of 3-D US the number increased. I have not seen 3-D being used for more than a toy. Experienced ultrasonographers train their brains to see in 3-D on a 2-D dimension. There has not been a significant increase in autism etc, considering the number of fetuses being subject to the procedure. Amniotic fluid easily dissipates any heat and the settings for the exams are always set low. I'd be more concerned about early 6-10 week transvaginal scans at increased frequency settings but nothing significant has been shown. It became quite a thing to see the fetal patient real time as it is easier for doctors to evaluate patients without the patient tucked in a bag and you can check the heartbeat but not see jaundice, facial nerve drooping or other vital observations. I understand your concern but the benefits outweigh the risks as long as it stays that way. I hope this helps your questions that so far have not been manifested in the long run.
This is Dr Manos again. I should have added that the amount of time the transducer is emitting sound waves is quite less than the transducer is using in interpreting the echo patterns it receives and processes. Thanks.