Biophysical Profile (BPP)
How It Is Done
Most often, a biophysical profile (BPP)
is performed by your
obstetrician. But it may be done by an ultrasound
radiologist. A BPP can be done in your doctor's
office, hospital, or clinic.
nonstress test with electronic fetal heart monitoring
and a fetal ultrasound are done as part of a biophysical profile. A nonstress test helps check the baby's health by looking at the baby's heart rate with movement.
Some doctors may use a modified biophysical
profile, which combines a nonstress test and measurements of the amniotic fluid
(amniotic fluid index).
External fetal heart monitoring
records your baby's heart rate while your baby is moving and not moving. It is
usually done just before a fetal ultrasound.
is done using two flat devices (sensors) held in place with elastic belts on
your belly. One sensor uses reflected sound waves (ultrasound) to keep track
of your baby's heart rate. The other sensor measures the duration of your
contractions. The sensors are connected to a machine that records the
information. Your baby's heartbeat may be heard as a beeping sound or printed
out on a chart.
If your baby moves or you have a contraction, you
may be asked to push a button on the machine. Your baby's heart rate is
recorded and compared to the record of movement or your contractions. This test
usually lasts about 30 minutes.
Often you do not need to remove
your clothes for the ultrasound test; you can lift your shirt and push down the
waistband of your skirt or pants. If you are wearing a dress, you will be given
a cloth or paper covering to use during the test.
- You may need to have a full bladder. You may
be asked to drink 4 to 6 glasses of liquid, usually juice or water, about an
hour before the test. A full bladder helps transmit sound waves and pushes the
intestines out of the way of the uterus. This makes the ultrasound picture
- You will not be able to urinate until the
test is over. But tell the ultrasound technologist if your bladder is so full
that you are in pain.
- If an ultrasound is done during the later part of
pregnancy, a full bladder may not be needed. The growing fetus will push the
intestines out of the way.
- You will lie on your back on a padded
examination table. If you become short of breath or lightheaded while lying on
your back, your upper body may be raised or you may be turned on your
- A gel will be spread on your belly.
- A small,
handheld instrument called a transducer will be pressed against the gel on your
skin and moved across your abdomen several times. You may watch the monitor to
see the picture of the fetus during the test.
When the test is finished, the gel is cleaned off of your
skin. You can urinate as soon as the test is done. Transabdominal ultrasound
takes about 30 to 60 minutes.
Ultrasound technologists are trained
to gather images of your fetus but can't tell you whether it looks normal or
not. Your health professional will share this information with you after the
ultrasound images have been reviewed by a radiologist or