Pregnancy Ultrasounds

Dr. Barra O'Briain, MD, family physician, discusses ultrasound during pregnancy.

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Dr. Barra O'Briain, MD, family physician, discusses ultrasound during pregnancy.
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Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Barra O'Briain, MD

Duration: 2 minutes, 25 seconds

Ultrasound is a tool that we use in obstetrics to basically take pictures of the baby.

It emits sound waves and is reflected back by different tissues, and we're able to determine with enhancements some of the details of the uterus, the baby, the ovaries, the cervix, the placenta, in the course of the women's pregnancy.

We use ultrasound for dating the pregnancy. Sometimes as part of the genetic screening we look at the nuchal translucency, which is basically the thickness of a portion of the neck, sometimes the nasal bone.

Later in the pregnancy, between 19 and 21 weeks, we do an ultrasound for fetal detail where we're able to look at the heart and kidneys and other organs of the baby. And that's usually the funnest ultrasound because you can get the whole baby in one screen and so that's one that no one misses.

Also later in the pregnancy we'll do an ultrasound sometimes to determine the position of the placenta if there's any bleeding. If we've got concerns with regards to the baby's growth we'll do that, if we've got concerns whether there's too much or too little fluid we'll do an ultrasound to determine that.

And certainly later in the pregnancy when we're getting close to the 42 weeks we'll do an ultrasound to take again a look at the health of the pregnancy, health of the placenta, by checking the amniotic fluid. There's also some testing that we do in the first trimester where we will look at some of the blood tests that we use for the genetic screening, that they may predict the pregnancy to be at a higher than normal risk.

And so we'll look at the uterine arteries around 19 or 20 weeks to see if there's any notching there, but that's an uncommon utilization of the ultrasound. Most of the time it's just pictures of the baby: the placenta, the fluid, and to make sure everything's okay.

Ultrasounds are generally safe in pregnancy. They don't want to be overutilizing them, however for directed needs and medical questions that we have around the pregnancy it's a great tool.

If you have questions with regards to the ultrasound itself, the need of an ultrasound, the safety of ultrasound, please contact your family doctor or midwife or obstetrician or whoever's taking care of you during your pregnancy.

Presenter: Dr. Barra O'Briain, Family Doctor, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Family Doctor

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.