An ultrasound can be done for a variety of reasons, but the most common reason is to look at a baby in the womb. If you recently had an ultrasound and want to know how to interpret the ultrasound image, learning about the basics of ultrasound imaging can help. You may also want to know how to identify different areas of your pregnancy ultrasound such as the baby’s head, arms or gender. Keep in mind that it can be difficult to interpret an ultrasound image, so it’s best to do this with the help of your doctor.
- 1 Decode the images
- 2 Reading a pregnancy ultrasound
- 3 Tips
Decode the images
Ignore the text and numbers at the top of the image.
Most hospitals and ultrasound centers use this space to provide details such as your name, hospital reference number, and ultrasound machine settings. Since this information has nothing to do with what you see on the ultrasound, you can ignore it.
Start at the top of the picture.
The top of the screen or printed image is where the ultrasound probe was placed. In other words, the image shows you what the organ or tissue looks like from the side, not from above. For example, if you had an ultrasound of your uterus, you’ll see the outline of the tissue overlying your uterus at the top of the screen or printed image. If you look further down the screen, you’ll see deeper tissues, like the lining of your uterus, the inside of your uterus, and the back of your uterus.
Note the color differences.
Most ultrasound images are black and white, but you can see different shades of black and white in your ultrasound image. The color differences are caused by the different densities of the materials through which the sound travels. Solid tissue-like bone appears white because the outer surface reflects more sound. Tissue that is filled with fluid, like the uterus, appears dark. Ultrasound is not well suited to gas. Therefore, organs that are filled with gas, such as the lungs, are not usually examined with ultrasound.
Pay attention to the visible side of the body.
Most ultrasound images are reversed, meaning you see the left side of the body on the left side of the image. When you have a transvaginal ultrasound, it records the image from the front. A front view shows the left side of the body on the right side of the image. If you’re not sure what type of ultrasound you had, ask your doctor.
Pay attention to common visual effects.
Because ultrasound uses sound to map the internal structure of your body, the images are not entirely clear. There are many different visual effects that could arise as a result of the settings of the ultrasound, the angle, or the density of the tissue being examined. Some of the most common visual effects to look out for include: Boost. This occurs when part of the structure being examined appears brighter than it should because there is too much liquid in the area. An example of this would be a cyst. This effect makes the examined area appear darker than it should. anisotropy . This effect has to do with the angle of the probe. For example, if the probe is held at a right angle on some tendons, the area will appear lighter than normal. Therefore, it is necessary to adjust the angle of the probe to prevent this effect.
Reading a pregnancy ultrasound
Identify your uterus.
You can identify the outline of your uterus by finding the white or light gray line around the edges of the ultrasound image. There should be a black area directly in this area. This is the amniotic fluid. Keep in mind that the edge of the uterus doesn’t have to go all the way around the frame. The ultrasound technician may have positioned the probe so your baby is in the center of the image. Even if you only see white and gray lines on one or two sides of the image, that’s probably the outline of your uterus.
Discover the baby.
Your baby will also appear gray or whitish and be in the amniotic fluid (the dark area in the uterus). Look at the area in your amniotic fluid and try to identify your baby’s outline and features. The details you see in the picture depend on how far along your pregnancy is. At 12 weeks you probably only recognize your baby’s head, while at 20 weeks you might recognize their spine, eyes, feet and heart.
Determine your baby’s gender.
At 18 to 20 weeks, you will have an ultrasound to check the baby’s development, identify any problems, and maybe even determine your baby’s gender. You have to remember that it is not always possible to determine the sex of your baby at this point. You won’t know for sure until the baby is born. To determine your baby’s sex, the ultrasound technician or obstetrician will look to see if the ultrasound shows a penis or not. Keep in mind that this type of gender determination is not 100% accurate. A visual effect can create or hide the appearance of a penis on the ultrasound image.
Consider a 3D or 4D ultrasound.
If you want to see more detail about your baby than a traditional ultrasound can give you, you could ask your doctor about a 3D ultrasound. A 3D ultrasound can show your baby’s facial features and detect certain defects, such as a neural tube defect. A 4D ultrasound uses the same imaging as a 3D scan but takes a short video of your baby in the womb. If you want a 3D or 4D ultrasound, you should have it done between weeks 26 and 30. Keep in mind that these scans can be very expensive and may not be covered by your insurance unless there is a medical reason for doing so, such as to look at an abnormality more closely.
Remember that reading an ultrasound image is very complicated. There are some details you won’t be able to see without the help of a trained professional. If you come home and see something that worries you, ask your doctor to help you decode your ultrasound image.
If you want to get more baby product deals and discounts, click here.