Ultrasound is a very common test that is used for a number of reasons. During pregnancy, you may have screening ultrasounds or ultrasounds that are looking for specific problems (targeted ultrasounds). The tests may be done over your abdomen or through your vagina (transvaginal ultrasounds). Your doctor may also recommend a fetal echocardiogram to look at the blood vessels in your baby’s heart.
Below is some information about the different types of ultrasound tests you may have during your pregnancy. A specialized technician called a sonographer will most likely perform tests, but it’s possible your doctor may perform an ultrasound.
General screening exam
- A screening exam is usually performed between your 18th and 20th week of pregnancy to screen for major fetal abnormalities.
- This basic exam helps your health care provider evaluate your baby's brain, face, head shape, heart, abdomen, kidneys, bladder, spine, and arm and leg shape.
- It does not include counting fingers and toes.
- A targeted exam involves a detailed examination of your baby's heart (fetal echocardiogram), measurement of all the long bones, counting of the fingers, and identification of the gallbladder and other parts of your baby's anatomy.
- This exam takes up to 90 minutes.
- This exam is only done if one of your previous children has a certain abnormality, you have a disease that can be passed to your baby, or your baby has an identified abnormality.
Transvaginal ultrasound exam
- This exam allows the sonographer to see structures clearly. The sonographer inserts a long, thin probe into your vagina. It is not painful, and you should only feel pressure and slight wetness from the gel.
- It is sometimes used to locate the placenta.
- You will begin the examination with a full bladder, but you may be allowed to empty your bladder before the start of the vaginal examination itself.
- Sometimes you may have both an abdominal ultrasound and a transvaginal ultrasound during the same testing period.
A fetal echocardiogram visualizes the blood vessels coming out of your baby's heart. Because these blood vessels are often difficult to see, the test may take longer than expected.
Your doctor's office may schedule your appointment for you, but if you need to make, change or cancel an appointment, call 248-898-2070 (select Option One) for both hospitals.