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Assessing and Decoding Your Ultrasound

Woman Holding Photo Of Ultrasound While Doctor ExplainsIt’s something all expectant parents anxiously await – each ultrasound appointment. Depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy, it’s an opportunity to catch the first glimpses of your baby’s features and learn whether you’re having a boy or a girl. But after your appointment, it can be tough to interpret every detail of your ultrasound reading image without your obstetrician there to explain them all. Here are a few tips from Advanced Obstetrics & Gynecology, LLC on how to decode and understand your ultrasound image from the comfort of your own home.

Starting from the Top

It’s generally recommended that you read your ultrasound reading by beginning at the top of the image. You will initially see some lines of numbers and text, which Advanced Obstetrics & Gynecology, LLC uses to keep track of patient identifying information, settings for the ultrasound machine, and more.

Right below, you will notice the edges of your womb at the top of the image, followed by the fetus surrounded by amniotic fluid within your uterus. You may be able to notice features of your baby, such as his or her face, hands, feet, eyes, and heart, but this largely depends on the stage of your pregnancy. As you look below the position of the fetus, you’ll see parts of your spine, as well as the lining, inside, and backside of your uterus.

Differences in Colors

During a prenatal ultrasound, high-frequency sound waves are utilized to gain a visual of the inner abdomen. The sound waves create echoes, which are recorded and create photographic or video images of the baby. While a majority of ultrasound readings are black and white, it’s important to know that color and tone differences throughout the image identify different things.

Anything that appears white represents your baby’s solid tissues, such as bones. This is because solid surfaces reflect a higher frequency of sound than do softer surfaces. In addition, dark spots on the image indicate your baby’s liquid-filled tissues, such as blood pumping through the heart, as well as the uterus’ amniotic fluid. Another common color seen is the light gray or grayish-white lines along the sides of the ultrasound reading, which show the edges of the womb.

Identifying Health Concerns

Beyond showing you images of your developing baby, ultrasound readings are also used to identify any health problems or concerns that may be affecting the fetus. If this is the case, the specialists at Advanced Obstetrics & Gynecology, LLC will inform you during your ultrasound reading and conduct further testing.

Other times, faulty ultrasound machine settings or the wrong angle of the probe can cause areas of the fetus to appear darker or lighter than they should. This is because ultrasound readings rely on sound waves to create images, which sometimes creates false alarms. The most common visual effects include:

  • Enhancement – when excess fluids or a cyst cause the image to appear brighter than normal
  • Attenuation – when a shadowing effect appears over an area, typically due to incorrect ultrasound settings
  • Anisotropy – when the probe is at an angle that forces the area to appear brighter or darker than normal

Your Pregnancy Partners

As an ultrasound reading is just one aspect of monitoring your pregnancy, the board-certified obstetricians at Advanced Obstetrics & Gynecology, LLC are standing by as your partners throughout this exciting time of your life. We are available 24/7 to meet your needs and always consider your medical history, family history, and other health details to provide completely personalized care. For more information, contact us today.

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