4D Scans

What is a 4D scan?

Like 3D scans, 4D ultrasound scans are captured by directing the sound waves into the mother’s uterus at numerous angles simultaneously, so that when the echoed images are reflected back to the transducer, surface rendering turns them into precise 3D images. Where the technology reaches a step further is that the images of the baby with 4D scans become ‘video’ in real time. Thus ‘time’ is the fourth dimension, as there is no other scan quite like it in terms of instant rendering of 3D moving images.

What are the benefits of 4D?

The stunning amount of surface detail rendered in the 4D images provides benefits for both the sonographer and mother-to-be. Due to the accuracy and visual precision of the images, it can be easier for the sonographer to pinpoint any irregularities and see the development of the baby’s body and organs. Often these can turn out to be nothing serious, as 3D and 4D scans pick up on many small details missed by regular ultrasounds, but this sort of diagnosis and checking up on the baby is nevertheless a valuable tool that maximises safety. Unfortunately this pinpoint precision can exacerbate some mothers’ anxiety by revealing potential ‘problems’ that soon clear up. For the mother, the personal benefits of 4D scans can be tremendous, as we explore below.

Parent-Baby Bonding

Parents who choose a 4D ultrasound believe it is good for the pregnancy and their personal well-being. This is backed by evidence suggesting that mothers often switch to a healthier diet and cease detrimental behaviours after these scans. The reason for this may be due to the great intimacy of 4D scans, which increase empathy and attachment with the baby for mother and father. Siblings may even feel a bond with the baby after seeing it so clearly on the screen.

Are other scans still necessary?

Yes. Assessing the baby with a 4D scan does not replace normal recommended scans such as the dating or anomaly scan. There are many factors behind this, including the monetary cost of 4D scans, which are mostly available in the private sector, and the fact that both 3D and 4D scans are most effective at approximately 30 weeks into the pregnancy. Doctors now advise mothers to have an early scan in order to get the dates correct and look for any problems ahead of time; this is accomplished with other scans and ultrasounds. 4D scans are elective and not a substitute for prenatal care.

Is it safe?

A common misconception is that 3D and 4D scans have to use greater power levels to achieve their astonishingly accurate images. This is not the case; it is simply a clever and advanced use of the same principles using the same power levels. Performed by a trained and experienced professional, a 4D scan should therefore be just as safe as the original ultrasound technology, which has been implemented in medicine for decades without harmful effects to mother or baby. Your biggest risk is accepting a scan from a spurious source. Good word of mouth is the best method for finding decent providers and sonographers.

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