One of the most recently developed technologies in sonography is the 3D and 4D ultrasound which is capable of helping the sonographers get multiplanar of fetal heart and also a better visualization of congenital birth defects. It also helps in the diagnosis of pathology. It has been said to be a very fast and efficient way of acquiring the required data within a data set and the potential for increased diagnosis is very real. The 3D and 4D imaging have been growing rapidly since the 1970s and has now been included in the clinical setting. It is vital for sonographers to understand the development of the imaging format in order to be able to acquire and use an optimal data set.
3D and 4D ultrasound are one of the most popular and recent technologies in sonography. It can be used in fields of study like Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN) and also for cardiac imaging. Although the development of 3D and 4D ultrasound can be traced back to the early 1970s, it is rapidly changing as new methods of manipulating data and computer technology evolve. In order to be able to use the 3D and 4D ultrasound data set, the sonographers require a new set of skills.
Apart from the rapid development on the ultrasound research, the increasing rate of availability of 3D and 4D ultrasound in New York has also led to a rise in the level of public access to the 3D and 4D ultrasound services in the city. The 3D ultrasound is capable of providing the sonographers and parents with images of the fetus and 4D ultrasound is capable of showing them images of the fetal movement as it happens in real time. The 3D and 4D ultrasound images can also show the sonographers and the parents the gender of the fetus.
Although the 3D and 4D ultrasound was developed more than 30 years ago, it is widely used in the medical field in these recent years and it has continue its rapid development with researchers exploring its applications. It is said to be the best way to get an image of the surface characteristics of the fetus and it also enable us to get a view of certain birth defects which are easier to understand if they are viewed with a 3D or 4D ultrasound. For instance, 3D imaging is capable of providing a physician with a better image of a birth anomaly such as clubfoot, facial cleft, skeletal abnormalities, facial abnormalities, neural tube defects and cleft lip. The 4D ultrasound analysis can be used to improve the diagnosis of structural fetal heart malformations. Although, the use of the 3D and 4D ultrasound can be very exciting, the American Institute Of Ultrasound In Medicine (AIUM) have stated that using 3D and 4D ultrasound to view an image or take a picture of or acquire the gender of a fetus without proper medical indications runs contrary to good medical practice. Although, an ultrasound expert might be capable of understanding a birth defect in 2D ultrasound images, patients and physicians find it much easier to understand a birth defect in 3D or 4D ultrasound images.
The 3D and 4D ultrasound provides a physician with a wide range of tools like the multiplanar display of the fetus in which the physicians is capable of seeing things like the orthogonal views of the fetal brain and its cavities. The multiplanar display of the fetus provided by the 3D and 4D ultrasound is very useful. The 3D and 4D ultrasound images provide a view of the surface characteristics which enables the physicians to view the physical characteristics of the fetus such as the baby’s face or hands or even other surface features that might allow them to look for genetic syndromes. Some of the other tools provided by the 3D ultrasound are the maximum intensity projection, 3D inversion mode and the thick slice scanning. The thick slice scanning offer the physicians a better look at the fetus fingers and toes and birth defects like cleft palate, while the maximum intensity projection provide the physicians with better view of the bony structures like the vertebra or the skull. The 3D inversion mode provides them with the ability to view the structures which are filled with fluid, like the brain ventricles or fetal stomach which often appear black in other ultrasound images.
The 4D ultrasound provides the physicians with tools like Spatial Temporal Image Correlation (STIC) which is a very good method of examining the fetus moving heart so that the physician can get a dynamic multiplanar view of the heart. All these tools provide the physicians with the ability to view the fetus heart in four dimensions (4D).
All the tools provided by the 3D and 4D ultrasound imaging can be mixed and used together to get more precise data of the fetus. For instance, if a fetus has an obstetric complications like vasa previa, physicians are able to use 3D ultrasound to get a delivered image which can be combined with other 3D ultrasound imaging tools like the color Doppler. The combination of these ultrasound imaging tools can show the physicians things that traditional ultrasound cannot show them.
The 3D and 4D ultrasound is also capable of enabling the doctors to search quantitatively for information like the estimated fetal weight using the fractional thigh volume measurements based on the 3D scans. The data obtained by the physicians using the 3D and 4D ultrasound imaging can be used to improve the spatial calculations, diagnosis and communication. One of the best features of the 3D and the 4D ultrasound imaging is its ability to provide the physicians with an instant surface image of the fetal face, legs, hands and also its heartbeat. Although, the 3D and 4D ultrasound have been developed over thirty years ago, it still provides the physicians with the ability to monitor the baby’s growth, heart rate and also some birth defects. The 3D and 4D ultrasound is a very amazing and helpful technology which can be used to monitor an unborn child’s health.
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