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3D / 4D Scan

In a conventional 2D scan, the image seen on the monitor is composed of a series of slices but only one slice of the image can be seen at any one time. The doctor or ultrasonographer must combine numerous slices mentally to form a 3D image in the mind. However, the image seen on the monitor does not look like a baby.

With advances in computer technology, up to 90 slices can be obtained automatically within a few seconds. The computer in the ultrasound machine combines these images to form a 3D or "life-like" image of the baby on the monitor.

Moving beyond this is the Live 3D or 4D scan, which gives the examiner an almost "real-time" images of the baby. This allows both the doctor and parents to view the baby in a series of moving 3D images. This exciting new dimension is useful to assess the baby's behavior during the pregnancy. However, its relevance to the present clinical practice is still being evaluated.
The Advantages of 3D Ultrasound
For the Doctor / Examiner:
  • The images can be stored & retrieved for repeated analyses.
  • The images can be viewed in 3 different planes and therefore any abnormalities can be assess more precisely.
  • It allows more accurate measurement such as the estimation of the baby's weight.
  • The reconstructed images allows a better depiction of normal structures and therefore it is a reliable way of excluding fetal abnormalities.
  • It allows detailed study of any abnormalities especially the complex ones so that care can be optimized for the mother and her baby.
For the Parents:
  • Unique visual experience which will strengthen the maternal/paternal to child bonding.
  • It can reassure the parents of normality of the baby; in particular if they had a previous child with an abnormality such as cleft lip.
  • It gives a better understanding when an abnormality if found and helps prepare the parents for the birth of an abnormal baby.
3D images at various gestation in pregnancy
Three-Dimensional ultrasound is important to confirm normality or abnormality of the baby. It provides a more comprehensible impression of fetal abnormalities. This technique has been shown to be complementary, but not an alternative technology to the conventional 2D.

When a comparison is made between 2D and 3D ultrasound, it has been shown that 3D ultrasound is able to detect 60% more fetal abnormalities. However, a good 3D image is still very much dependant on the quality of the 2D image.

The introduction of the "live" 3D or the 4D scan has added yet another new dimension. Its true value, especially in the area of fetal behavior and invasive procedures are still being evaluated.

In FMGC, we do not differentiate between 2D, 3d or 4D scan. Since our machines are fully equipped, it allows us to do 2D, 3D and 4D during the same session.

Read more about 3D/4D ultrasound in the article "More than just a pretty face"