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Obstetric ultrasound uses the same method as diagnostic ultrasound, but instead of monitoring and diagnosing disease, OB ultrasound is concerned with the health of a woman and embryo or fetus during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum recuperation period.

During the ultrasound procedure (also called “sonography”), sound waves are directed into the body and then echo back to a computer, creating a moving image for your physician to use while assessing your pregnancy. Ultrasound does not use radiation; therefore it is safe for you and your baby. The fact that your physician can see movement on the monitor makes ultrasound a particularly useful tool in monitoring the development and general health of your baby.

What can my doctor see during the procedure?

As your baby grows, your doctor will be able to measure specific areas of the body and monitor organ growth.

Specifically, your doctor may use ultrasound to:

  • Detect abnormalities and defects
  • Determine gestational age
  • Monitor fetal growth
  • Determine the number of fetuses
  • Determine placental location
  • Watch the position of the baby
  • Measure amniotic fluid
  • Estimate birth weight

What can I expect during the exam?

During the exam, your physician will apply ultrasound gel to your skin and gently glide a transducer wand across the area while viewing the monitor. An OB ultrasound is typically performed at 20 weeks. Additional procedures may be scheduled to monitor your baby’s health according to your doctor’s recommendations.

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