Ultrasonography is the transmission of intermittent high-frequency sound waves through body tissue which are reflected back from this tissue to a transducer. From the transducer an image of the body tissue is displayed on the monitor screen.

Family Planning Associates Medical Group uses this technology to assist in gestational age dating–to determine the size of a pregnancy:

  • Technicians or clinicians who have received training in measuring specific fetal structures for age dating perform this test.
  • Our physicians use ultrasound for evaluating patients, as guidance during surgery when needed and post-operatively to confirm that the uterus is empty.
  • We can determine the size of a pregnancy, but we do not use ultrasound to determine the health or viability of the pregnancy as we do not perform diagnostic testing in our office.
  • It is common to feel pressure in the abdomen or the vagina, but most often there is very little discomfort associated with this procedure.

Safety

Numerous studies have been performed to determine the risks of ultrasound use in pregnancy. The studies have determined that there are no known risks and no confirmed biological hazards. Ultrasound imaging has been used for over 20 years and has an excellent safety record. It is based on non-ionizing radiation, so it does not have the same risks as X-rays or other types of imaging systems that use ionizing radiation.

Procedure

The abdominal ultrasound involves placement of the transducer on the abdomen, or stomach. A conducting gel is placed on the abdomen through which sounds waves are transmitted and received. A “real time” image is displayed on the monitor screen. The vaginal ultrasound consists of placing a specially designed probe into the vaginal canal. These probes are sanitized after each use and covered in a disposable barrier before the exam. The vaginal ultrasound usually produces a more distinct picture of the uterine contents and allows for dating (in most cases) of an earlier gestational age.

At FPA most of our ultrasound exams are normally brief. If it is determined by our staff that you need a diagnostic ultrasound, for example if you have a history of cesarean section or an ectopic pregnancy is suspected, you will be provided a referral to a hospital setting for a more extensive exam and evaluation.

We are happy to provide a free ultrasound in many cases.

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Family Planning Associates Chicago