3D & 4D Scans

The four dimensions are length, breadth, width and time. A three dimensional (3D) ultrasound involves a static analysis of a picture in length, breadth and width. Using the fourth dimension (4D) one can get instant pictures in time of a 3D image - a 3D picture is a static image and a 4D picture is a 3D picture which is updated regularly in time, so that it seems like a moving 3D image ie as we see at the movies.

Both 3D and 4D scans are performed at our Wesley and Sunnybank rooms. Patients are given a CD and/or a DVD (dependant on gestation) with images of their baby to take with them. The quality of these images is reliant to the mothers BMI, fetal position, movement, previous abdominal surgery and reduced amniotic fluid.

3D and 4D ultrasound both utilise sound waves to look inside the body just the same as ordinary 2D ultrasound. Since its inception in 1956 there has been no evidence to show that there are health risks associated with ultrasound. It does not matter whether we use 2D, 3D or 4D ultrasound. The scans are useful in obstetrics, where there is a lesion that may be difficult to explain to the patient. In most instances the anomaly can be diagnosed with 2D ultrasound. However the 3D may give better definition of the malformation such as cleft lip, abnormal position of the hands and feet or extent of the spinal defect in spina bifida.

The training of sonographers (ultrasound technicians)  is of a very high standard in Australia. The education process and the continuing evaluation of sonographers means that patients in Australia are now receiving world class management.

The technology we have today is so far advanced in terms of what was available even five to ten years ago. This enables us to get as good a view as is possible of a fetus. Sensible management protocols can then be implemented, if an anomaly is found. This may not be a structural anomaly, it may be something as simple as reduced fetal growth. The ability to see a baby clearly on ultrasound, even with the technology that we have, can vary with the lie and age of the fetus. As well, maternal BMI, previous abdominal surgery and reduced amniotic fluid can all influence the quality of the ultrasound images. Hence it is possible to misdiagnose the gender and miss structural abnormalities.

Most patients love to be able to see a picture of their baby or their baby’s face in either 3D or 4D.