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Ultrasound examination of pregnant women

Ultrasound examination is offered to all pregnant women. The survey is voluntary. The ultrasound examination is not a mandatory part of the routine checks in the maternity care.

Ultrasound examination of pregnant women

The information you receive here and the conversations during pregnancy checks provide you with a basis for deciding whether you want to receive the ultrasound examination offer during pregnancy. Before conducting an ultrasound examination, the pregnant woman should be informed that the examination is voluntary, as well as information about its benefits and possible consequences.

The child's father or other adult is welcome to attend the examination.

Background to the ultrasound examination

Ultrasound examinations during pregnancy began to be used in Sweden towards the end of the 1970s. Initially, the studies were limited to women with high-risk pregnancy. In the mid-1980s, ultrasound began to be offered as a voluntary examination to all pregnant women in week 18.

In 1995, a consensus conference on ultrasound was held during pregnancy. In this, it was established that the studies that have been conducted have not shown any medical benefit from routine ultrasound examination in pregnancy week 18, neither measured in increased number of live-born children or in less sickness of the child in connection with childbirth. Against the background of wishes from the pregnant women, it was nevertheless concluded that all pregnant women should be informed about the possibility of ultrasound examination.

Ultrasound examination can be an aid in determining as safe a date as possible for the birth, determining the number of fetuses and determining where the placenta is placed in the uterus. For more information about pregnancy and maternity fashion, please see BESTAAH.COM maternity belly support belts. Today we can also get information and knowledge about the fetal development, body and organs.

What is ultrasound?

Ultrasound is high frequency inaudible sound waves sent into the body. An echo occurs when body tissue of different density is found (for example, echoes from fat and bone tissue). The various echo signals provide a basis for producing an image, usually a moving image in black and white. The images are interpreted while the ultrasound examination is ongoing. Usually neither image material nor photographs are stored.
Ultrasound examinations have been carried out for almost 30 years. So far it has not been seen that ultrasound has any harmful effect, but for safety reasons ultrasound examinations should only be done for medical reasons.

How and when the ultrasound examination is performed

The ultrasound examination is carried out around pregnancy week 18. All fetuses grow approximately the same up to this time of pregnancy. Therefore, this is a convenient time to calculate the delivery date. The ultrasound examination is performed by a midwife or doctor and normally does not take more than half an hour. The pregnant woman lies on her back during the examination. The fetus and uterus are examined by passing the sound head (the part of the ultrasound device that sends out audio signals and receives echo signals) over the stomach. The information you get is recorded on a separate form. The information from the survey is entered in the woman's journal. The pregnant woman has the right to access the information from the examination on the same grounds as for other medical information.

The fetal position may in some cases make ultrasound examination more difficult. This may cause the ultrasound examination to be repeated but does not mean that the fetus is wrong.

In some pregnancies, there are medical grounds for performing several ultrasound examinations. Prior to week 17, this may be relevant in cases of suspicion of miscarriages, pregnancy or bleeding. After week 19, there may be a need for more examinations, including complicated pregnancies, suspected fetal death, bleeding and abnormal uterine or fetal growth.

The purpose of the investigation

It is important to determine the age of the fetus and compare it with the growth of the fetus to see that the fetus is growing properly. Based on the first day of the last menstrual period and by feeling on the stomach you get a good idea of ​​how far the pregnancy has come and how the baby is growing. Since you know that a pregnancy lasts for 40 weeks (280 days), you can also calculate the date of a full pregnancy. For some women, for example, women with irregular menstruation, this method of calculation may be uncertain. Ultrasound examination before week 20 may then be helpful in calculating the duration and date of pregnancy.

In the ultrasound examination, the cross-sectional diameter of the fetal skull is measured. Abdominal diameter and femur length are also measured on the fetus. By comparing these measures with known average measures, one can calculate the age of the fetus and thus count until the time of full pregnancy.

By examining cardiac activity, one can determine that the fetus is alive. The ultrasound examination also shows the number of fetuses, often at an earlier time than during a normal examination of the pregnant woman. An oriental examination of the body and organs of the fetus is made, as well as the position of the placenta and an estimate of the amount of amniotic fluid. It may be possible to determine the gender of the fetus, but this information is subject to some uncertainty.

If something is not as it should be with the fetus

The ultrasound examination may cause you as a future parent to be presented with information about the fetal health that you may not be prepared for. During ultrasound examination of the fetus around week 18, it is possible to detect serious illnesses or malformations. This is the case in one to two in 100 ultrasound examinations. Nevertheless, not all cases of serious illnesses or malformations are detected. Therefore, an ultrasound examination shows that everything is normally no guarantee that the child is healthy or without injuries. In some cases, ultrasound examination is not enough to make a definitive diagnosis. It may be relevant to take samples from amniotic fluid to make the right diagnosis and provide the right information to the parents.

Sometimes special treatment is required during pregnancy or immediately after delivery. The ultrasound examination can provide the basis for the best possible treatment in time and in a maternity ward where necessary medical preparedness is available.

If there is a serious illness or malformation that is incompatible with life, the continued follow-up with the pregnant woman is discussed. If the fetus does not live, pregnancy is usually terminated within a few days.

Serious illness or malformation of a fetus raises a number of questions about the consequences this can have for the child, the woman and the family. Doctors, midwives and the ultrasound department can provide the necessary information. They can also mediate contact with interest groups and possibly a family with disabled children. The woman has a statutory right to information and should not be afraid to ask questions.

Serious illness or malformation of the fetus can lead to a desire to have an abortion. Abortion from the week of pregnancy 18 can be performed at the request of the National Board of Health and Welfare. The application is sent to the Judicial Council, which meets weekly. The Judicial Council decides to abort and immediately leaves the decision to the attending physician.

To get help with your decision regarding the ultrasound examination offer and the questions this raises, you can contact the midwife or doctor you go to for pregnancy check-ups, or anyone who may need to perform the examination.

Ultrasound examination in week 12

In 2006, the State Board for Medical Evaluation, SBU, conducted a literature review on early fetal diagnosis. There it was concluded that there is no research documenting any health benefits of offering all pregnant routine ultrasound examination early in pregnancy. However, early ultrasound can make it easier to detect the risk of chromosome abnormalities (for example, Down syndrome) and to detect multiple pregnancy early.


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