Thursday, August 27, 2015

Health Care and Sonograms

When expectant mothers go to the doctor to check on their pregnancy, one of the first procedures that the OB/GYN schedules is a sonogram. This unique tool allows the technician, the physician, and the Mom to see how the baby is developing. In some cases, the sonogram tech can predict the due date of the baby more accurately than the physician.

Technically, the sonogram is an image or graph representing a sound, showing the distribution of energy at different frequencies—a diagnostic medical image created using ultrasound echo (sonographic), equipment.

A sonogram is the image generated during ultrasonography, which is a diagnostic imaging technique that uses ultrasound to visualize anything inside the body. Ultrasound is sound with a frequency above the range audible to humans, about 20 kHz. In common parlance, both words are used to refer to the ultrasonography procedure, according to Diffen. The sonogram also helps physicians observe growth of a fetus, calculate age and due date and see presence of multiple fetuses. Plus, it’s used to diagnose pelvic bleeding or locate cancerous cells.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, an ultrasound exam is a procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to scan a woman’s abdomen and pelvic cavity, creating a picture (sonogram) of the baby and placenta. Although the terms ultrasound and sonogram are technically different, they are used interchangeably and reference the same exam.

There are basically seven different ultrasound exams, but the principle process is the same. Here are the various types of exams:

·         Transvaginal Scans – Specially designed probe transducers are used inside the vagina to generate sonogram images. Most often used during the early stages of pregnancy.

·         Standard Ultrasound – Traditional ultrasound exam which uses a transducer over the abdomen to generate 2-D images of the developing fetus .

·         Advanced Ultrasound – This exam is similar to the standard ultrasound, but the exam targets a suspected problem and uses more sophisticated equipment.

·         Doppler Ultrasound – This imaging procedure measures slight changes in the frequency of the ultrasound waves as they bounce off moving objects, such as blood cells.

·         3-D Ultrasound – Uses specially designed probes and software to generate 3-D images of the developing fetus.

·         4-D or Dynamic 3-D Ultrasound – Uses specially designed scanners to look at the face and movements of the baby prior to delivery.

·         Fetal Echocardiography – Uses ultrasound waves to assess the baby’s heart anatomy and function. This is used to help assess suspected congenital heart defects.

Your healthcare provider will use hormone levels in your blood, the date of your last menstrual period and, in some cases, results from an ultrasound to generate an expected date of conception. However, many differences in each woman’s cycle may hinder the accuracy of the conception date calculation. Much more detailed information about this subject can be found at this website: http://americanpregnancy.org/prenatal-testing/ultrasound/ .

In many pregnancy cases, especially when there is thought about aborting the baby, an actual-size sonogram at nearly seven weeks' gestation is usually done; 33 percent of abortions occur before then. Sonograms are a vital tool in showing the growth and any movement of the baby in the womb.

When a pregnancy is planned, a sonogram marks a joyful beginning, according to Glamour Magazine. Soon-to-be parents post the grainy images on Facebook, tape them up on refrigerator doors, or paste them into baby books as first entries. But for the 3.4 million women across the country who face an unintended pregnancy every year, the scan can be a different story. This is where a sonogram complicates that decision to move forward with aborting the new life now growing in the mother.

Sonogram laws, which require doctors to offer or perform an ultrasound before any abortion, are part of a dramatic increase in antiabortion legislation sweeping the country. As of late 2014, over 220 of these restrictions have passed—35 more than in the entire previous decade: Some of them ban the procedure outright after 20 weeks of pregnancy; others mandate that facilities meet specifications such as a certain width for hallways.

Although the images have become politically charged, the science behind sonograms is straightforward. When an ultrasound sensor is placed inside a woman's vagina or on her belly during an exam, the sound waves produce a moving picture. At six weeks the sonogram can often show a fetal heartbeat.

At eight weeks—the point at which two thirds of abortions have occurred—a distinct shape is just starting to emerge. At nine weeks the beginnings of arms and legs are visible. By 13 weeks—when 92 percent of abortions will have taken place—the fetus weighs nearly an ounce, with a hint of facial features.

Most abortion providers routinely use ultrasound to help determine how far along a pregnancy is, but now in several states the test is required in virtually all cases. In Texas, Louisiana, and Wisconsin, the law mandates that women be shown the image and hear it described (a doctor will detail the exact dimensions of the embryo, for example, or the internal organs of the fetus). In the nine other states (Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia), women must be offered a view of the sonogram.

In most of these states, if the women don't want to look, they must sign a waiver. More details about the use of sonograms by abortion clinics is found at this site: http://www.glamour.com/inspired/2014/11/how-women-seeking-abortions-feel-about-viewing-a-sonogram

Ultrasound images are captured in real-time, allowing them the ability to show the structure and movement of the body’s internal organs, as well as blood flowing through the vessels. Ultrasound scans are completely noninvasive, and unlike x-rays, they do not use ionizing radiation, according to Envision Radiology.

Ultrasound scans help physicians diagnose and treat a variety of medical conditions, and help evaluate symptoms such as pain, swelling, and infection. Ultrasound is useful in examining many of the body’s organs, including the heart and blood vessels, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, liver, bladder, thyroid, uterus, ovaries, and scrotum.  Most ultrasound procedures are fast and painless, being completed within 30 to 60 minutes.

Sonogram machines emit sound waves, often known as ultrasound waves, that bounce off of organs, bones, and muscles. The machines are able to calculate the distance between waves in order to generate a very accurate picture, which is displayed on a specialized computer screen, according to WiseGEEK. In most cases, the waves are both sent and received from a wand-like instrument known as a transducer.

A trained technician will usually gently touch the wand to the skin above the area of interest. Jelly or lubricant is often applied first, both to help the wand glide and to amplify the sound waves to generate a clearer, more accurate picture. Most sonogram sessions result in pictures from many different angles, which technicians and medical professionals look at in sequence to get an idea of what is happening internally.

To mitigate the possible risks to a developing child, most medical professionals use sonograms only intermittently in pregnancy. Though parents often want to see images of their growing baby at each doctor visit, this is not usually permitted unless there is a legitimate medical need. Limiting the number of sonograms administered is one of the ways that medical professionals protect babies from potential risks.

Listening to the fetal heartbeat and monitoring the mother’s blood work are often just as effective at making sure the baby stays healthy as a real-time picture is. More information about this topic can be found at this website: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-sonogram.htm .

Sonograms can and should be used for any type of non-invasive medical evaluation, including pregnancy, cancer, and other health care needs. As long as you use a certified technician qualified to do the procedure, you should have minimal discomfort. The results that are generated can give a clearer picture of what is going on inside your body. For all medical situations, visit a certified medical or health care practitioner.


Until next time.

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