Generation Diagnostics & Center for Medical Genetics


shutterstock_155801687A prenatal ultrasound uses sound waves to create a visual image of your baby, placenta, and uterus. Importantly, it gathers valuable information about the progress of your pregnancy and your baby’s health.

What is CMG® Ultrasound?

A prenatal ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to form images from inside the mother’s abdomen. A transducer — similar in function to an audio speaker — is placed on the mother’s belly and it transmits sounds inaudible to the ear. The echos are recorded  to form a video or photo image of the baby, i.e. a sonogram.

What does the ultrasound show?

Ultrasound imaging can show images of the baby, the amniotic sac, placenta and ovaries. If major anatomical abnormalities or birth defects are present, they will be visible on the ultrasound image.

How is ultrasound used as part of a genetic test?

Ultrasounds are often part of a genetic test, including:

  • Nuchal translucency measurement – The measurement assesses your baby’s risk of having Down Syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities as well as major congenital heart problems.
  • Chorionic villus sampling –  Used to detect chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome, as well as a host of other genetic disorders.
  • Amniocentesis –  The ultrasound guides the sampling of your amniotic fluid in order to gather information about your baby’s health.

What is the procedure?

The woman lies on the examining table while the operator positions the transducer against the surface of the belly. A gel is applied to the skin for better image quality. Alternatively, with a transvaginal ultrasound, a tubular probe is inserted into the vaginal canal. This method can deliver enhanced image quality, especially if a problem is suspected. It can also better determine gestational age early in the pregnancy.

How safe is it?

Because ultrasound uses sound waves rather than radiation, there are no discernible side effects. Yet, ultrasound does subject the fetus to a source of energy, so  it should not be used for non-medical reasons, i.e. video keepsakes.

At what stage is ultrasound given?

Ultrasound imaging is typically performed at 20 weeks. At this stage, the test can confirm that the placenta is healthy and that the baby is growing normally. The heartbeat and movements are visible. The gender is also visible at 20 weeks. Confirm that you wish to know the gender. Gender accuracy is not 100 percent.

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