Understanding your fetal ultrasound

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an ultrasound flute is black bone will

be white and other tissues of shades of

gray this is the patient's bladder and

the fetal head is down near the cervix

the position of the fetus doesn't matter

at all at this point in time we often

see the fetus completely flip around

during the course of the ultrasound the

placenta is on the front side of the

uterus we want to look at that location

relative to the cervix

but this early in pregnancy even if it

is low there's a good chance it'll move

higher later in pregnancy this is the

umbilical cord connecting to the

placenta we check to make sure the

attachment is normal when we look

closely at the umbilical cord you'll see

two small black circles and one black

stripe those are the three blood vessels

in the cord which is the correct number

to have you want to look closely at some

structures inside the brain the bright

area here is the cord plexus the part of

the brain that makes final fluid this

black area next to it is the collection

of spinal fluid in the brain we measure

it to make sure there isn't hydrocephaly

or too much fluid in the brain we also

look at this structure in the back of

the brain the cerebellum it looks like

two balls stacked on top of each other

for years all we did was measure it for

growth but we now know the shape may be

changed if the baby has a neural tube

defect so looking at this area helps us

detect spina bifida in this view we also

measure the thickness of the skin at the

back of the neck it can be increased in

some chromosome abnormalities like Down

syndrome here we're looking directly at

the face which looks more like a skull

there just isn't much fat yet on the

face within the eye socket you can see

something that looks like a bubble it's

the lens of the eye we also want to look

at the lips and nose which are behind

the baby's hands you can see the

nostrils appear black because they feel

with amniotic fluid if there's a gap in

the lip a cleft lip it also fills with

fluid and will appear black so you don't

see the nice grey outline of the upper

lip the profile is good to look at for a

couple of reasons

first it's a pretty image that most

people can easily recognize but more

importantly there are times when the

chin is too small which can potentially

cause problems for the baby with

breathing in the delivery room we want

to see the nose the lips and the chin in

a nice straight line

this is the spine we look at the region

of the neck the middle of the back and

all the way down to the sacrum or tail

bone where it comes to a V these views

help us detect spina bifida you can also

see the ribs coming off the back with

the spine up towards us we can also see

some of the big blood vessels in the

baby like the aortic arch the black

candy-cane shaped structure in the chest

the heart is one of the most important

organs that we look at during an


it appears black because blood inside

the fetus is really just another kind of

fluid that allows us to see the four

chambers of the heart the heart valves

opening and closing and the blood

vessels leaving the heart there's a hole

here between the right left sides of the

heart it allows oxygenated blood to take

a shortcut from the right side of the

heart to the left side and bypass the

lungs since oxygen is being provided

through the umbilical cord that hole

will close after a baby is born these

colors represent blood flow in the heart

and help us to see that both sides of

the heart have developed normally and

are being filled with blood the kidneys

sit next to the spine and are hard for

me to point out to people and show them

that they're normal here we're looking

at a cross-section of the abdomen at the

level of the waist the black dot is the

baby's stomach and it shows up as black

because it has fluid in it the fluid is

amniotic fluid which the baby is

swallowed so seeing it there tells me

that the baby is swallowing which is an

activity that should be happening and

since the fluid makes it down into the

abdomen after the baby swallows we know

it is unlikely that there is a blockage

in the baby's esophagus looking further

down we see these little lines that's

where the umbilical cord is actually

attaching to the baby's abdomen so the

future side of the belly button we check

to make sure that that part of the

abdominal wall has developed normally

and finally all the way down in the

baby's pelvis we see another black dot

which is the baby's bladder that tells

us that the kidneys which earlier we saw

appear normal are functioning and

producing urine here are the baby's legs

they are extended and we see both of

them moving I also want to look at the

position of the feet coming off at the

ankles and make sure they're nice and

straight with no evidence of a club

foot that's where the foot is turned in

or out and finally these are the bottoms

of both feet like footprints we're at

the end of our head-to-toe look at your

baby's ultrasound and I hope you've

learned a little more about what that

ultrasound is telling us