3D Ultrasound: Cost, Procedure, And Right Time

Many doctors offer 3D examinations that show the unborn child or individual organs in three dimensions. Parents can follow the development of their baby in the womb true to life with the so-called baby television.

What exactly is a 3D ultrasound? When is the best time for the images? Here you will find all the important information about 3D ultrasound.

What Is A 3D Ultrasound?

A 3D ultrasound is a medical method for three-dimensional analysis of internal organs. The examination proceeds in the same way as a conventional ultrasound. The three-dimensional image of the baby can be in the form of pictures or video.

Most often, a 3D ultrasound is performed only because expectant parents want to see a recognizable ultrasound image or video of their baby. The advantage of a 3D ultrasound is that the baby and its organs can be better visualized through spatial imaging.

A 3D ultrasound image is so sharp that you can see the nose, mouth and face very well. A special feature of 3D ultrasound compared to conventional ultrasound is that the acquisition of beautiful memory images depends on the position of the child.

The child must lie in such a way that its face is turned towards the ultrasound machine or at least it lies sideways to it. For diagnostic 3D ultrasound, the position is not so important, because physical abnormalities can be detected even in a slightly unfavorable position.

What Is 4D Ultrasound?

The 4th dimension added to 4D ultrasound is time. Or in other words: 4D ultrasound is baby cinema in real time! The 4D ultrasound is also called 3D live ultrasound, because here, in addition to the static 3D images, movements are transmitted in real time.

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A video of the baby can then be created from the images. For this purpose, the individual 3D images are shown in rapid succession, resulting in a film with several ultrasound images per second.

With 4D ultrasound, expectant parents experience magical moments when they see their unborn child in a video. However, 4D technology was not developed with the goal of making parents happy.

When Is The Ideal Time For A 3D Ultrasound Image?

For memory pictures and videos: Around 30 weeks gestation, the baby’s features and facial characteristics are easy to see in the 3D ultrasound image. Reminder images and videos are usually taken from the 25th SSW, although some children are not yet well represented on these 3D images.

The latest date for a 3D ultrasound for memory images is around the 33rd SSW. After that, the baby may already be too big to be fully visible on an ultrasound image. In the uterus, it then also has hardly any room to move. However, the face can still be depicted well on the ultrasound image.

For diagnostic purposes: For early detection of congenital malformations, images can be taken from the 12th week of gestation until about the 16th week of gestation. Compared to a classic ultrasound image, 3D visualization offers an easier diagnosis.

How Does A 3D Ultrasound In Pregnancy Work?

The examination proceeds in the same way as a conventional ultrasound. After applying lubricant to the pregnant woman’s abdomen, the ultrasound probe is moved to a location where the baby can be easily seen.

The ultrasound machine’s transducer emits sound waves at a frequency that the human ear does not perceive. The sound waves are reflected back from the body tissue like an echo.

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In a 3D ultrasound, the device calculates a spatial, i.e. three-dimensional, image of the child. A 3D ultrasound image is particularly high-resolution, so that even facial structures are recognizable.

You are not always lucky with the images. Sometimes the child lies in an unfavorable position and therefore cannot be imaged properly. A doctor cannot influence the position of the child, so a new appointment for the image must be made.

The position of the placenta also influences whether a 3D ultrasound makes sense or not. The placenta is usually located in the upper part of the uterus opposite the cervix. However, it is also possible that the placenta is attached to the side wall as well as the posterior and anterior wall.

Particularly in the case of an anterior wall placenta, images are often problematic. The placenta then obscures the view of the baby. If the baby is in a favorable position, parents can help decide which images the doctor should take.

This is also possible during a diagnostic workup. The examination can be a bit more time-consuming until the diagnosis is clear. A 3D ultrasound can also have the goal of giving the parents already anticipation of the child.

All movements on the 3D ultrasound are transmitted in real time. In the second trimester, the child’s facial features are already clearly visible.

Which Malformations Can Be Detected With The Help Of 3D Ultrasound?

The 3D ultrasound can be used to visualize the child’s internal organs and bones.

The following malformations of the child can be detected with the help of 3D ultrasound in the 12th to 16th week of pregnancy:

Chromosomal malformations, on the other hand, cannot be detected with 3D ultrasound.

Application Of The 3D Technique For Organ Ultrasound

Since organs can often be better visualized using 3D, the 3D technique is often used to examine the organs of the unborn child. The so-called organ ultrasound is performed between the 20th and 21st SSW. The organ ultrasound is much more extensive than the usual ultrasound screening specified in the maternity guidelines.

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The gynecologist may order an organ ultrasound in the following cases:

  • Chromosomal abnormality or malformations in other children of the couple in question.
  • Family history of diseases that may be inherited.
  • Hereditary diseases of the parents.
  • Diseases of the mother with negative consequences for the child (for example, diabetes mellitus).
  • Medication taken in early pregnancy.
  • X-ray examination or radiation treatment in early pregnancy.
  • Problems in previous pregnancies.
  • Occurrence of irregularities during the usual screening examinations at the gynecologist.

The costs of these examinations are usually covered by all health insurance companies.

What Can Be Examined During An Organ Ultrasound?

During the examination, which lasts about thirty to forty minutes, the imageable organs of the unborn child are examined. The results are decisively influenced by the position of the child and the thickness of the maternal abdominal wall.

The following are examined:

  • Appearance and function of the visible organs, including the heart (echocardiography).
  • Appearance and function of the heart (echocardiography).
  • Blood flow in the uterine vessels.
  • Blood flow in the umbilical cord.
  • Amount of amniotic fluid.
  • Growth of the unborn child.

What Are The Risks Of 3D Ultrasound?

There are different opinions about the possible risks of a 3D ultrasound. From the point of view of most doctors, the risks of a 3D ultrasound are low. Even though it is not necessary to perform more than the recommended ultrasound examinations, 3D UItrasound does not harm the child.

During the examination, there is no unnecessary pressure on the pregnant woman’s abdomen. The child does not have to change its position for the scan. Other scientists and doctors recommend ultrasound examinations only when they are medically justified.

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A 3D ultrasound can eliminate the need for other examinations that are uncomfortable and risky. For example, if the 3D ultrasound shows an inconspicuous and normal body development, other examinations can be omitted. The ultrasound examination is not physically stressful for either the pregnant woman or the child.

For mothers, 3D ultrasound has no health consequences.

Stronger Bond Through 3D Ultrasound

The early “encounter” of the parents with the unborn child can strengthen the bond with the child. Especially when the parents are still very young or the pregnancy is difficult, doctors like to offer 3D ultrasound. Parents get more awareness of the developing being and look forward to the child with anticipation.

Who Pays For The 3D Ultrasound?

A 3D ultrasound belongs to the so-called individual health services (IGel), so it is usually not covered by health insurance. Depending on the scope, a 3D or 4D ultrasound costs 50 to 150 euros.

The costs for a 3D ultrasound are only covered by the health insurance if there is a medical necessity for it. Otherwise, the health insurance only covers the conventional three so-called basic ultrasound examinations.

These examinations, which are specified in the maternity guidelines, are usually performed with a conventional 2D ultrasound scanner. Ask your gynecologist in advance about the costs involved.

Restriction Of 3D And 4D Ultrasound As Of 2021

According to the new Radiation Protection Ordinance, 3D and 4D ultrasound will be restricted for pregnant women from 2021. A 3D or 4D ultrasound will then only be permitted if medically necessary.

Conclusion

A 3D ultrasound during pregnancy can increase the anticipation of having a child and provide a stronger bond between parents and child. At the same time, a 3D ultrasound image can be helpful for diagnostic purposes. However, a 3D ultrasound is actually required only for medical reasons.

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