Children's Hospital Colorado

Fetal Ultrasounds

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A fetal ultrasound (or fetal sonogram) is a routine imaging procedure used to view your developing baby and track their development as well as your pregnancy.

What is a fetal ultrasound?

A doctor looks at a fetal ultrasound

A fetal ultrasound is a non-invasive procedure that uses sound waves to create images that help our team evaluate how your baby is forming inside your womb. You will probably have your first trimester ultrasound with your primary care provider to confirm your pregnancy and find out how long you have been pregnant. Your provider will also likely determine the number of fetuses, evaluate your pregnancy and look for any anomalies (abnormal development).

If your provider finds any anomalies, you might be referred to the Colorado Fetal Care Center at Children’s Hospital Colorado, or a similar facility, for a maternal fetal medicine ultrasound. Here, one of our registered diagnostic medical sonographers or maternal fetal medicine physicians will conduct your fetal ultrasound. These experts are trained specifically in detecting and analyzing a wide range of fetal anomalies and helping to develop the best possible care plan for you and your baby.

What conditions does a fetal ultrasound diagnose?

A fetal ultrasound is used to diagnose multiple types of fetal anomalies, including, but not limited to:

What happens before a fetal ultrasound?

Your primary physician will likely refer you to our Center for a fetal ultrasound after finding an abnormality or issue during your routine ultrasound. You or your physician will schedule an appointment with our highly trained team. At the appointment, we will take the time to explain to you and your family exactly what your physician is concerned about, what we will be looking for and what you can expect from the fetal ultrasound procedure.

What can you expect during a fetal ultrasound?

Our care team will help position you so you are comfortable and so we can collect the most accurate images. A registered diagnostic medical sonographer or maternal fetal medicine physician from our team will place warm ultrasound gel on your abdomen. They will guide a transducer, which is a wand-like device, back and forth across your abdomen. It sends high-frequency sound waves into your abdomen to obtain the images.

The fetal ultrasound will last about 60 minutes, depending on the diagnosis and number of fetuses. After we collect the images, our specialists who work primarily in evaluating the most complex cases, will analyze your images to give you the most accurate diagnosis.

What should you expect after a fetal ultrasound?

You will typically get your results the same day. A maternal fetal medicine doctor, as well as any other doctors from related specialties, will meet with you to discuss the results of the fetal ultrasound. Our providers have specific expertise in diagnosing and caring for fetal anomalies. They will sit with you and answer as many questions as you have about your diagnosis.

Why choose Children’s Colorado for a fetal ultrasound?

An accurate diagnosis is the first step in a complete care plan for your baby. Few facilities in the country have the experience, expertise and advanced technology of the Colorado Fetal Care Center. Our medical sonographers and maternal fetal medicine doctors have extensive training and experience diagnosing fetal anomalies and will help explain to you what they see on your ultrasound images.

Because treating rare conditions is common here, we can provide the highest level of care for you and your baby, no matter your diagnosis. From diagnosis through delivery and as your child grows, we have all the necessary specialists under one roof to care for your child and make sure they are as healthy as possible.