Ultrasound examination during pregnancy

Synonyms in a broader sense

Ultrasound examination, sonography, sonography

Ultrasound as a preventive examination

Nowadays, it is impossible to imagine pregnancy care without ultrasound examination. Every pregnant woman should be accompanied during pregnancy by a gynaecologist, who should have at least three check-ups, during which an ultrasound is performed: The first appointment should take place between the 9th and 12th week of pregnancy, the second between the 19th and 22nd and the third between the 29th and 32nd week of pregnancy.

First ultrasound examination

The first ultrasound examination is a special event for many parents, as this is the first time they can see their baby growing in the womb. As a rule, this first ultrasound scan is performed vaginally (vaginal or transvaginal sonography). The patient lies on her back and a plastic cover similar to a condom is placed over an elongated ultrasound probe.

The contact gel necessary to obtain a clear image is applied to this plastic cover. The ultrasound probe is then inserted through the patient’s vagina. Even though this examination does not cause any pain in principle, many women still find it unpleasant.

Compared to abdominal ultrasound, however, this method allows images of much better quality to be obtained. During this first examination, the pregnancy is first confirmed and it is checked whether it is a normal pregnancy or an ectopic or ectopic pregnancy. In addition, it can be seen here whether there is a multiple pregnancy.

Furthermore, the physician pays attention to whether there are any movements that indicate the vitality of the child, whether the development up to this point is age-appropriate and whether the heartbeat is regular. Even at this early stage, some abnormalities can sometimes be detected, for example if the child has Down syndrome (trisomy 21). Another part of the first ultrasound examination is to determine the expected date of birth. To do this, the gynecologist needs the date of the woman’s last period and also measures three values: the crown-rump length (SSL) of the fetus, the biparietal diameter (the distance between the two temples of the unborn child, BPD) and the fruit sack diameter (FD). Provided that the information provided by the woman is correct and the examination is performed in a contemporary manner (later in pregnancy the significance of the measured values is much less), the date of birth can be determined with a relatively high degree of accuracy.