How to read a pregnancy ultrasound report?

Have you ever gone through your ultrasound report and got confused? Do you look at your reports and wonder what exactly it is?

If you recently had your ultrasound test, then you would want to know how to interpret the images on the report on your own. You may want to understand how to interpret specific ultrasound features such as a baby’s growth or gender. If you feel it is challenging to understand your pregnancy ultrasound report, our team at DigiBaby will guide you with the basics. We will let you know different techniques to help you read your sonogram reports during pregnancy.

An ultrasound test is done for various reasons, but one of the most common is checking the baby’s growth during pregnancy. Ultrasound is a non-invasive, immediate tool that uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of the body’s inside. Ultrasound tests are safe during pregnancy as they do not penetrate bones (such as an X-ray). Ultrasounds only use sound waves or echoes for creating images instead of radiations.

The first step to read the ultrasound images is to get familiar with the structure of the image. Our body is made up of different tissues, and each body tissue conducts sound differently. Some tissues absorb the sound wave while other tissues reflect or bounce them. The bouncing back gives the ultrasound image its features in varying shades of grey. The fluids are always black, the tissues are grey, and the bones’ brightest white parts. The denser the tissue, the more brilliant white will appear on the ultrasound image.

Understanding the concept of Ultrasound

The person who does the ultrasound scans is known as a sonographer, and the images are inferred by radiologists, cardiologists, or any other specialists. The sonographer uses a wand-like device, i.e. transducer, which is placed on the patient’s skin. The high-frequency sound waves travel through soft tissue and fluids, bouncing back, creating images of the internal body structures. The term ultrasound refers to the sound with frequencies that a normal human ear cannot hear. Though higher frequencies give better image quality, they get more easily absorbed by the skin and other body tissues. Ultrasounds during pregnancy are done to check on the baby’s development and health. This scan test is non-invasive, painless and safe for both mother and unborn baby.

The use of ultrasounds during pregnancy

Ultrasounds are helpful at various stages of pregnancy, including –

  • First trimester – Ultrasounds are done within the first 3 months of pregnancy to help check the embryo’s growth inside the womb, confirm the number of embryos, and calculate the gestational age and the estimated date of delivery (EDD).
  • Second trimester – During the 18th and 20th week of pregnancy, ultrasounds are done to check the development of the fetal structure, including the spine, limbs, brain and internal organs. At this stage, the placenta’s size and location are also checked and can also determine the baby’s sex if the parents wish to know.
  • Third trimester – Ultrasounds after 30 weeks of pregnancy are used to check the baby’s average continued growth. Placenta’s location is also checked to make sure that it is not blocking the cervix.
External Ultrasound

The external ultrasounds are known as transabdominal Ultrasounds. In this, the healthcare provider takes a lubricating gel and puts it onto the patient’s skin and places a transducer over the lubricated skin. The lubricating gel provides better contact between the skin and the scanner. Then, the doctor moves the transducer on the body part in various positions to be examined. The pictures are instantly sent to the monitor screen. Your sonographer might push the transducer firmly at times to get better, more profound images. During pregnancy, women might go through slight discomfort due to the full bladder. The whole procedure for this method generally takes around 30 minutes or less.

Internal ultrasound

To evaluate the internal reproductive organs and the baby’s growth in detail, the transducer may be placed in the vagina. Internal ultrasound or transvaginal ultrasounds are less comfortable than transabdominal ultrasound, and there is a slight risk of internal bleeding. Transvaginal ultrasounds are done to gather more explicit pictures of the baby inside the womb. The whole procedure of the internal ultrasound takes approximately 30 minutes.

Now let’s dig into the steps that will help you in reading the ultrasounds during pregnancy.

Knowing how to read a pregnancy ultrasound

Locate your womb

First things first, you must need to know where your womb is. It is the elementary step in the process of reading the pregnancy ultrasound. Typically, one can quickly locate the uterus just by looking at the light grey or white line around the outside of the ultrasound image. Inside these light grey & white lines, you will notice a large black area known as the amniotic fluid. It would be best to keep this thing in mind that your womb might not necessarily go around the whole sonogram image. It depends upon how your ultrasound doctor have positioned the probe.

Locate Your Baby

The second thing to notice while going through your pregnancy ultrasound is locating your baby. The baby either looks grey or white on the ultrasound image. The baby will be positioned in the amniotic fluid (darker area on the image). The details of your baby that you will see in the ultrasound image depends on the stage of your pregnancy and the baby’s development. For instance –

  1. If you are going for the ultrasound test during the 8th week of pregnancy, then your fetus will be similar to the size of a single baked bean.
  2. During the 12th week, the ultrasound images will show the head of your baby.
  3. Moreover, the results will surprise you if you read the ultrasound report during or after the 20th week of pregnancy. You can see the baby’s heart, feet, spine, eyes, etc.

Well, if you are willing to know the gender of your baby, then it can be seen between 18-20 weeks of pregnancy. For finding out the sex of the baby, the sonography technician looks for either three lines which signify the labia or a penis. Though it is an accurate way to read the baby’s sex through an ultrasound but it is not always 100% accurate. There might be few visual effects that could interfere with an ultrasound image, and thus, results are not always 100% assured. Moreover, at this time, the ultrasound helps to get a full report that allows you to identify any potential problem related to the baby’s development.

Significance of the numbers on the ultrasound image

Ignoring any numbers or text on the ultrasound image is the best thing you can do. Many ultrasound scanning centres record the data which is relevant to themselves only. It includes your name, hospital reference codes, setting of the scanning machine, etc. This data is generally mentioned on the top of the image and has nothing to do with your baby’s results.

At the very top of the ultrasound image is the point at which the probe was inserted. So, the readings you see in the ultrasound picture shows what the tissues or organs look like from the side instead of the top. The uppermost part of the image obtained from the ultrasound taken of your uterus shows the tissues above your uterus. As you go down on this image, you will see the lining, the inside, and then the back of your uterus.

Importance of the Ultrasound reading colours

Different colours have different considerations in the ultrasound image. Though most of the ultrasound readings are in white and black colour, there is a subtle difference in the shading of each tone. The differences in colours are due to the varying densities of various materials that pass through the sound waves. We have already mentioned above that the amniotic fluid is dark in colour. Any solid tissues usually appear white on an ultrasound image report. 

Determining the visible side of the body

Most of the ultrasound images are mirrored. It means you will see the left side of the body on the left side of the image. But during transvaginal Ultrasound, it uses a straight shot. It helps to show the left side of the body on the right side of the image. If you are not sure what type of ultrasound is right for you, ask your doctor for recommendations.

Tips for reading a baby sonogram report

Here are five easy steps that help in reading the baby scan –

  • Stage 1 – In this stage, the fetus’s gestational age is calculated by measuring the CRL (Crown Rump Length). It is the length from the top of the baby’s head to the bottom of their bum. The CRL is measured between the 7th week of pregnancy to 13th week. Then the length result is compared with an internal chart to calculate the estimated gestational age accurately.
  • Stage 2 – The biparietal diameter is then taken. It is the length between both sides of the baby’s head.
  • Stage 3 – In this particular stage, the thighbone and the femur are measured to determine the longitudinal growth of the baby. On average, the femur should be around 1.5 cm when the baby is 13 weeks old.
  • Stage 4 – This stage includes the abdominal circumference measurement to determine the fetus’s height and weight. During the later stages of pregnancy, this is the most important measurement that helps check intrauterine growth.
  • Stage 5 – The sonographer reviews the fetal measurements to check for any abnormalities in the structure. A shorter humorous or femur bone or the absence of fetal nasal bones indicates that the baby might have Down Syndrome.

Which ultrasound scans are the best for determining a baby’s gender?

To get more detailed results than a standard ultrasound scan, then you might consider getting either a 3D or 4D ultrasound test. These scan tests help in showing the facial features and other features of the baby’s body. 3D or 4D ultrasounds are not available in every clinic as it requires advanced technologies. At Digibaby, we are offering the best affordable, elective 3D, 4D, HD Live ultrasounds.

  1. A 3D ultrasound test helps to show some features for your baby’s face. This Ultrasound also shows up certain defects in the baby, such as a cleft lip or palate.
  2. The 4D ultrasound test uses the imaging techniques as the 3D scan. However, it also helps in getting a recorded video of the moving baby in the womb.

The best time to have this test is between 26th to 30th week of pregnancy. Get in touch with our professional team for an unmatchable experience for seeing your baby through 3D or 4D ultrasounds.

Taking the professionals help for high-quality ultrasounds

Digibaby 3D/4D Ultrasound helps the to-be-parents to have a memorable experience of seeing their unborn baby for the first time. We are here to offer various services for enhancing the value of your ultrasound experience with us. Our team will help you see your baby grow, smile, yawn, and blink with our latest 3D, 4D and LIVE visual technologies.

Give us a call at 877-470-7531, 630-329-8156, 480-259-4108, or drop us your query at info@thedigibaby.com.

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