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Fetal Ultrasound

What To Think About

  • Normal fetal ultrasound results do not guarantee a normal, healthy baby.
  • Your doctor may recommend more tests or procedures if the results of your fetal ultrasound are not normal.
  • A photograph or videotape of the ultrasound image of the fetus is sometimes available to you.
  • Your due date may be changed based on an ultrasound done in early pregnancy if the ultrasound predicts a different date, based on fetal size and development.
  • Ultrasounds do not always show birth defects.
  • In the third trimester, fetal ultrasound does not accurately determine fetal age or weight.
  • The effects of prolonged fetal ultrasound exposure have not been determined. So the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not recommend fetal ultrasound for nonmedical reasons, such as for identifying the sex of the fetus or as personal keepsakes.
  • Three-dimensional (3-D) fetal ultrasound is being tested for use in evaluating fetal abnormalities. It is not yet widely available.
  • Doppler ultrasound (or duplex scanning) uses reflected sound waves to estimate the speed and direction of blood as it flows to the placenta and within the fetus. For more information, see the topic Doppler Ultrasound.

Other Places To Get Help


American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)
409 12th Street SW
P.O. Box 70620
Washington, DC  20024-9998
Phone: 1-800-673-8444
Phone: (202) 638-5577
Web Address:

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is a nonprofit organization of professionals who provide health care for women, including teens. The ACOG Resource Center publishes manuals and patient education materials. The Web publications section of the site has patient education pamphlets on many women's health topics, including reproductive health, breast-feeding, violence, and quitting smoking.

Related Information

Other Works Consulted

  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2009, reaffirmed 2011). Ultrasonography in pregnancy. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 101. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 113(2): 451–461.

  • Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.

  • Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerWilliam Gilbert, MD - Maternal and Fetal Medicine
Last RevisedJune 18, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 18, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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