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What is an Ultrasound?

An Ultrasound is a diagnostic exam that uses sound waves to visualize internal organs such as the liver, kidneys, pelvis, obstetrics, thyroid, breasts, testicles, musculoskeletal, and lymph nodes. We can also use Ultrasound to examine newborn heads, infant spines, and infant hips. We also use Ultrasound guidance for numerous types of biopsies and other special procedures performed by a radiologist.

Early in pregnancy, ultrasounds are used to confirm the fetal heartbeat and the baby’s position in your uterus. Later, ultrasounds screen for fetal growth and placenta location, as well as baby's general health and anatomy.

Toward the end of pregnancy, ultrasounds can be used to check the length of your cervix (especially if there is any suspicion that you may be in preterm labor) as well as verifying that your baby is in a heads-down position before delivery.

First-trimester ultrasound

An early ultrasound is often a routine part of prenatal care between 6 and 9 weeks of pregnancy, though it can happen anytime before week 14. But a first-trimester ultrasound isn’t standard practice because it’s still too early for your practitioner to see your baby in detail.

Most practitioners wait until at least 6 weeks to perform the first pregnancy ultrasound. However, a gestational sac can be seen as early as 4 1/2 weeks after your last period, and a fetal heartbeat can be detected at 5 to 6 weeks (though that isn’t always the case). The gestational sac provides nourishment and eventually produces cells that turn into baby’s umbilical cord, blood cells and reproductive organs.