Ultrasound and Prenatal Diagnosis

Ultrasound and Prenatal Diagnosis



An ultrasound (also called a sonogram) projects a picture of the baby onto a monitor, allowing the certified ultrasound technician to examine the structure of the body.


A fetal ultrasound examination gives us a look at the structure and anatomy of the baby to identify the presence of birth defects. We measure the baby’s growth, see how well it’s moving, and make sure there is a normal amount of fluid around the baby.


A small amount of clear, warm gel is placed on your abdomen. Then, a hand-held probe that is connected to the ultrasound machine is placed on top of the gel. The gel helps the probe transmit sound waves. These waves bounce off the body structures, including the baby, to create a picture on a monitor. An ultrasound technician will show you the baby on the TV screen where you can view the exam and the different parts of the baby. Your doctor will always receive a detailed anatomical description of the baby including measurements, comments, and recommendations.


3D ultrasounds allow the technician to view the surface and skin of the baby. A 4D ultrasound allows the technician to view the baby’s movement in real-time. If there is a concern about the structures or surface of the baby, such as a cleft lip, your ultrasound technician may use these capabilities for diagnostic purposes. Remember, ultrasound is a medical procedure and is not provided for entertainment value.

Cell-Free Fetal DNA Testing

  • This test is a blood draw accompanied by genetic counseling with a dating scan and is done in place of a First Look Test or other serum screening methods.
  • Blood is drawn from your arm and then cell-free DNA is analyzed for chromosomal abnormalities.
  • This test is offered to women >10 weeks of gestation.
  • Only certain women meet testing criteria, which includes advanced maternal age (35 or older at delivery), abnormal maternal serum screen (such as First Look test), abnormal ultrasound, history of child/pregnancy affected by one of the trisomies, and/or family history of one of the trisomies.
  • There is no risk for miscarriage.
  • Results are reported out in a positive or negative format for most laboratories. However, some laboratories report out a risk assessment.
  • Gender can be determined by this screen for most laboratories.
  • Results usually take one to two weeks.
  • If results are abnormal, we recommend follow-up with a diagnostic test.
  • This is considered the most sensitive/specific screening test offered for women in a high risk category.