Posted on July 18th, 2017 by wombwithaviewblog.com

Is ultrasound radiation?! After 25 years in the biz, it would be news to me – and to every other physician, engineer, and manufacturing company in relation to the technology. Not to mention those who have conducted biohazard testing in the field since the early 1900s…

What Exactly is Ultrasound? (Since It Isn’t Radiation)

Ultrasound is just that. Ultra Sound, or sound waves that work at a frequency far beyond human hearing. Like a fish-finder one might use on a boat. Or sonar used by the military. Human hearing ranges from about 20Hz (Hertz) to 20,000Hz (or 20kHz). When it comes to creating an ultrasound image, we work in the MHz range or millions of Hertz. An OB probe ranges from about 2MHz – 13MHz.

Ultrasound is a department of Radiology within a hospital, but it does not emit radiation.

So, Who Thinks Ultrasound is Radiation?!

Apparently, someone who hasn’t done her homework. I was floored recently while doing research for my book when I came across an author of a very popular pregnancy book (who will remain nameless…for now) who actually wrote that ultrasound is radiation.

She also claims that the Doppler used by physicians to obtain heart tones emits more radiation than scanning equipment! Wrong again, Doppler is ultrasound.

How does this happen? After all, she supposedly had the help of “knowledgeable” medical resources to write the book. Are they the only healthcare providers on the planet who don’t know Ultrasound is not X-Ray? And if not, why not?

I have no idea if this author has recanted this falsehood. I tried to Google it with no confirmation. If she did, I give her credit. If not, she owes an explanation and apology to her faithful readers and social media followers. She is incorrectly influencing millions of parents-to-be with this misinformation, and it’s not okay. She is adding needless fuel to the fire, and moms worry about enough as it is.

Additionally, she then goes on to advise moms to only have an ultrasound if they really want one, but to not have more than they need. To me, this begs the question…is it radiation or is it okay?

I would like to think she did not intentionally mislead her readership. But as a published author, ignorance is no excuse.

What is Radiation?

It is a transfer of energy that also travels in waves. For example, radiation is found in light from the sun, microwaves, and X-Rays. But not sound waves. And, yes, exposure to radiation can cause cancer. One example is skin cancer from too much sun exposure.

Consider this. When you go to the dentist, what is the first thing asked of any woman? “Is it possible you might be pregnant?” If the answer is “Yes” or “I’m not sure,” they shield your belly to protect Baby from the minuscule dose of radiation from a one-second X-Ray of your teeth.

If an obstetrician’s job is to manage the health and care of Mother and Baby, and it is, why then would docs expose their patients directly to radiation? And what about sonographers? We all would be directly exposed numerous times a day, every week for the duration of our careers. None of us, patients nor sonographers times decades, have died from cancer due to ultrasound exposure.

Is Ultrasound Safe?

Biohazard testing over decades has shown cavitation, the development of bubbles, over many consecutive hours of scanning in one area. So far, there have been no known effects for the very short-term use as needed by your doctor for your diagnostic scans. Therefore, it’s been the feeling of the medical community that the benefits far outweigh any risk, and they justify the use of ultrasound only for diagnostic purposes. So, no, they are not an advocate of the private entertainment ultrasound scan in the strip mall near you. And neither am I, but this is another post altogether. It’s also the responsibility of the sonographer to use as low a power setting as needed to obtain an adequate image.

***

One of the reasons I started this blog five years ago is because patients were misinformed – by Dr. Google, family, or friends. I expect as much from a random non-medical blogger, and I was even more enraged to find misinformation being doled out on popular pregnancy sites. But this took the cake.

It’s one thing to express one’s opinion. But when you’re making tons of money by persuading expectant moms to adopt your line of thinking, you have the responsibility to get your info right. No one says anyone has to be a fan of ultrasound. And as a mom, you have the right to decline. Before you do so, speak with your provider. You need only to understand your choice. Any mom who ever delivered a baby with serious problems was happy to know about it in advance for planning and educational, emotional, and delivery purposes. This, in fact, is the purpose of obstetric ultrasound.

And if you’re all about moms and choices, and those choices are power? The power only comes from a parent who makes an informed choice, not one based on misinformation. It is my wish and goal to simply and accurately explain ultrasound for moms-to-be and stamp out the misconceptions. Understanding is also power:)

Here’s to a happy, healthy, and informed pregnancy!

wwavblogger, RDMS

wwavblogger, RDMS

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As always, thanks for reading! Please feel free to email your comments or questions to me at wombviewerblog@gmail.com. And please subscribe to the right>>>to receive automatic posts (of course, you can always opt out!)

PS Readers! Finally! In preparation of publishing my book, I will very soon be introducing myself! Real name, real face. I’ll be happy to meet you all! Stay tuned!

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Posted on July 6th, 2017 by wombwithaviewblog.com
I’ve received questions lately regarding where to find fetal sex or gender in an ultrasound report. Can you always find this information in a report?
The short answer? No, not always.
Actually, we mostly do not record fetal sex, and it’s mostly not important to your doc. Typically, fetal sex is not pertinent information to the examination. Though parents may desire it, physicians don’t need this determination to manage your care and that of your baby if both are healthy. The above is true for most general OB practitioners in the US. However, every physician practices a little differently, and one can certainly dictate if he or she wants this info on all patient reports (if possible to determine). The case may be different if you are seeing a high-risk OB doc, aka a perinatologist. Their reports consist of much greater detail and may possibly include a fetal sex/gender guess.

Example of a Blank Report

In the images of a sample report taken from a monitor, you’ll notice there is a whole host of blanks to fill, but fetal sex is not one of them. On the first page where you see Sex: Other, this refers to the patient. Patient demographics were not entered here, so the Sex option defaulted to Other. We always include your LMP or EDC/EDD – aka baby due date. The larger blue space would be filled with fetal measurements, estimates of gestational age, and fetal weight as they are obtained.

OB ultrasound report

OB ultrasound report
In the pages above, you’ll note the list of fetal organs and structures we attempt to document on a mid-pregnancy anatomy screen. We only fill out the section called BPP in the 3rd Trimester when your doc orders this particular examination. And the CVP is usually only filled out when performing a Fetal Echo or detailed heart examination.

Exception to the Rule

There always seems to be at least one exception to every rule. Because the responsibility of a sonographer is to search out structural malformations, we also have to report suspicions of abnormal external genitalia. In other circumstances, we may see particular abnormalities that we might group together, as in the case of certain syndromes. Sometimes, knowing fetal sex helps physicians either support or rule out a particular chromosomal or structural problem. Some of these are gender specific. In the pic below, we have a designated space on a Comments page to expound on our findings. We can add fetal sex here if we feel it is pertinent information to the findings.
OB ultrasound report
In some countries, fetal sex is neither reported nor discussed with parents due to the cultural preference of one sex over another. And some facilities are beginning to incorporate policies against providing parents with this news due to litigious reasons. Unfortunately, such is life in the good ol’ US. Facilities want to limit their liability for guessing incorrectly by simply not allowing their sonographers to guess at all.
So, if you don’t want to know your baby’s sex (or even if you do!), don’t expect your ultrasound report to disclose that information. Your sonographer creates the images and report. We only include what is needed and leave out what is not!
Best wishes for happy and healthy!
wwavblogger, RDMS
PS ~
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Posted on October 20th, 2014 by wombwithaviewblog.com

We all know kids say some of the funniest things! And when Mom is 11 Weeks pregnant, Big Brother enters my ultrasound examination room with SO many questions!

We realize, as adults, just what a different perspective of life they have when, on hilarious occasion, they express to us these tiny pearls of realism in a way we never considered. They see the world in such simple terms; it’s unfortunate how we grow out of that over time. Oftentimes, we can actually see those mental wheels spinning, trying to make sense of the ultrasound monitor with their limited knowledge.

A Kid’s Precious Perspective

So, last week as I am scanning Mom, Big Brother of about 6 or 7 is watching intently. He was very excited to see “his” baby and had lots of questions about everything I was pointing out to him. I typically start with the head, try to demonstrate a great profile of the face and, of course, I make a point to include hands and feet. It takes a minute for older children to really appreciate that it’s a baby on the monitor. After all, that black and white and gray blob on the screen doesn’t look like any baby they’ve ever seen!

If I can obtain a decent shot of the arm and hand, I’ll annotate on the monitor “hi!!” and tell the excited on-lookers that Baby is waving to them. It’s just one of those fun aspects of my job and the reactions are always cute.

11 Weeks Pregnant, 11 Week Fetus

11 Week Fetus

As I did just that, Mom laughed. But Big Brother was quiet, and we could tell he was deep in thought. After a few seconds he finally spoke up and asked, “Mom, the baby can already spell?!!”

Mom and I had a great laugh over that, and Big Brother was happy to learn that his baby wasn’t smarter than him just yet!

**I would love to read YOUR funny stories.  Email me at wombviewerblog@gmail.com and tell me all about it!  Yours just may be my next post!

Thanks for reading!

wwavblogger, RDMS

For the most recent post, go to wombwithaviewblog.com!

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Posted on March 12th, 2012 by wombwithaviewblog.com

Consulting Dr. Google…

Don’t do it, Moms-to-be! As much as you may be tempted, I have to caution you to not web-surf fetal abnormalities on ultrasound.

In this day and age of anything we want to know at our fingertips, it is nearly impossible to NOT research something that piques our curiosity. So, naturally, when you get your ultrasound results from your doctor, and he mentions you have a lot of amniotic fluid (polyhydramnios) or your baby has cysts on its brain (choroid plexus cysts), you freak out a little (or a lot). It’s completely understandable!

The truth is, however, that when you surf the net for these details you end up finding an entire spectrum of possibilities ranging from normal to severely abnormal fetal findings. And most of them may not apply to your circumstances at all. The result is usually the same. Your imagination runs away with you, and you start to worry that everything you’re reading applies to you and your baby. I always know a mom has been consulting Dr. Google when I get questions like “Is my baby’s bladder inside its body??” My response is usually the same…I reassure her with an “It sure is!” Then with a little smile, I advise “Quit looking up stuff on the internet!!!” Moms’ responses are usually the same, too. “I know, I know…I just can’t help myself!”

If Your Doc Wants to Refer You…

Sometimes, we sonographers (even the experienced ones) detect things we just can’t explain. This doesn’t mean something detrimental to your baby; it just means we can’t fully explain it. We know this is disconcerting to an expectant parent(s). Usually, if something requires the attention of a high-risk specialist (aka a perinatologist or MFM or Maternal Fetal Medicine), your doctor will tell you when he discusses your ultrasound results. In such a particular case, he/she will usually express that something noted on the examination stands out as abnormal (or possibly a normal variant – something that’s a little different but considered normal), and he would like a second opinion.

In my experience, if your provider feels it is not grossly worrisome, he/she will say so. Your doctor will then refer you to MFM so they can do a more extensive Level 2 ultrasound. The perinatologist should discuss this ultrasound with you, provide an opinion on the issue, and the severity of the problem. MFM will also let you know if they feel there really is no problem.

If Your Report is Normal

If you are not referred to a perinatologist, then it’s very likely that nothing worrisome enough was seen on your ultrasound. Your doctor will also let you know that your ultrasound was negative or unremarkable. At times, we can’t see something well because of Baby’s position or other factors. Usually, it’s something like Baby’s heart or spine. In these cases, your doc may want to look again to ensure a normal appearance. There are many minor findings that we may note on a regular sonogram which may not be alarming to your doctor. Mostly, they just require a follow-up later to see if the issue is resolved. They mostly turn out to be insignificant, especially if no other abnormalities are seen with your baby. In other words…they are likely not a big deal!!!

So don’t make yourself worry! Don’t ask Dr. Google, ask your doctor instead. Make a list of all your questions, and he/she will let you know if other tests are needed. I know it’s tempting, but this is only the beginning of all the things that drive us crazy as moms! Save your sanity for when your kid is a driving teenager!

Best wishes for a happy and healthy pregnancy!

wwavblogger, RDMS

wwavblogger, RDMS

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