The terms sonogram and ultrasound are often used interchangeably. However, there is a difference between the two:
- An ultrasound is a tool used to take a picture.
- A sonogram is the picture that the ultrasound generates
In short, an ultrasound is the process, while a sonogram is the end result. Even though technically the terms mean different things, they are used interchangeably by many people.
Both a pelvic ultrasound and a vaginal ultrasound are perfectly safe, noninvasive and painless procedures. Ultrasound does not use radiation and can be performed even when you are pregnant.
Sonograms have a varied number of applications, but most people know about it from its safe use during pregnancy and an OB/GYN exam. But since it shows any hollow organ in real time, it is also used during surgery to help make many procedures much safer.
The Ultrasound and Pregnancy
Ultrasound has become a vital diagnostic tool that not only confirms pregnancy, but can diagnose problems as well. No evidence of harm or long-term effects have been found in mothers or babies.
There isn’t a minimum or maximum number of abdominal sonograms that you should get during pregnancy. Other than the one or two you can get to confirm pregnancy and look for any abnormalities, most healthy pregnancies do not require more.
High risk pregnancies may require more frequent ultrasounds if your gynecologist suspects something specific. Then you may get a vaginal ultrasound. Indications for an obstetric ultrasound are classified according to the trimester, which include:
- First trimester:
- Confirmation of pregnancy
- Confirmation of heartbeat
- Calculation of normal gestation
- Diagnosis of abnormal gestation
- Diagnosis of initial complications (ectopic or molar pregnancy)
- Second trimester:
- Diagnosis of malformations or structural abnormalities
- Diagnosis of multiple pregnancy
- Diagnosis of intrauterine fetal death
- Visualization of amniotic fluid level
- Confirmation of fetal well-being
- Third trimester:
- Location of placenta
- Visualization of fetal presentation
- Diagnosis of uterine or pelvic abnormalities
Risks and Rewards of Ultrasound
The benefits of this non-invasive, painless procedure far outweigh any risks. Millions of women have received ultrasounds, and although you should not do any unnecessary scans, it is one of the safest diagnostic procedures available.
Ultrasounds can be performed at any point during pregnancy, and there are no side effects to the procedure. Being able to safely confirm pregnancy, diagnose maternal and fetal abnormalities, and see fetal well-being are not the only benefits. Hearing your baby’s heartbeat, knowing the gender and seeing it move are highly rewarding to future parents.
Do You Need to Have a Full Bladder?
When your gynecologist advises you that you need an ultrasound, there are certain things you should expect and certain things you should ask. Before the procedure, your doctor should tell you whether you should have a full bladder or not. He should also tell you if it is an abdominal or vaginal ultrasound. If he doesn’t, ask. Usually, a full bladder ultrasound, especially in early pregnancy, gives a better image of your uterus.
You should wear loose comfortable clothing when you expect having to undergo an ultrasound. The procedure can take from 20 to 60 minutes, depending on the type and specifics of the scan. You will be able to resume normal activity immediately afterwards.
What to Expect
At your appointment you will be asked to lie on your back and expose your abdomen. The ultrasound technician puts ultrasound gel on your abdomen, which acts as a conductor for the sound waves. The ultrasound wand that transmits the waves is placed on your skin. As a black and white, real- time image shows up on the screen, the technician looks for specific things and measures different areas. The images are captured, and a radiologist reviews them.
You get a printed picture of the results, and your gynecologist discusses the findings with you. This simple and safe procedure has helped millions of women maintain healthy pregnancies or diagnose potential problems early. An ultrasound lets you see your baby in a fascinating way that is moving, heartwarming, and most importantly, harmless.
Forest Hills Medical Services is a comprehensive clinical practice. In our office we believe that how you are treated is just as important as the medical care we provide. We are dedicated to providing the highest quality obstetrics and gynecology with warmth and compassion. Our physicians are easy to talk to and our entire staff is friendly and attentive to your needs.
The best gynecologists in Queens who are part of the Forest Hills Medical Services team are renowned for their extensive skills in performing the ultrasound scans and interpreting the sonograms.
Gynecologists Dr. James Gohar (OBGYN Doctor), Dr Nithya Gopal and Maris Huffman, NP
Forest Hills Medical Services
108-16 63rd Rd
Forest Hills, NY 11375
☎ (718) 897-5331