Morphological ultrasound: what is it, what is it for and when to do it

Morphological ultrasound, also known as morphological ultrasound or morphological USG, is an imaging exam that allows you to visualize the baby inside the uterus, facilitating the identification of some diseases or malformations such as Down’s Syndrome or congenital heart disease, for example.

Normally, ultrasound is indicated by the obstetrician in the second trimester, between the 18th and 24th week of pregnancy and, therefore, in addition to malformations in the fetus, it may also be possible to identify the gender of the baby. In addition, the morphological USG marks the first moment when parents are able to see in detail the baby that is developing. Be aware that other tests must be done during the second trimester of pregnancy.

what is it for

Morphological ultrasound allows identifying the baby’s developmental stage, as well as evaluating possible changes in developmental stages. In this way, the obstetrician can:

  • Confirm the baby’s gestational age;
  • Assess the baby’s size by measuring the head, chest, abdomen and femur;
  • Assess the baby’s growth and development;
  • Monitor the baby’s heartbeat;
  • Locate the placenta;
  • Show baby abnormalities and possible illnesses or malformations.

In addition, when the baby is standing with its legs apart, the doctor may also be able to observe the sex, which can later be confirmed with blood tests, for example. Check out a list of available techniques for trying to identify the baby’s gender.

When to do the morphological ultrasound

It is recommended to perform a morphological ultrasound in the second trimester, between 18 and 24 weeks of gestation, as this is when the baby is already sufficiently developed. However, this ultrasound can also be done in the first trimester, between the 11th and 14th week of pregnancy, but as the baby is not yet well developed, the results may not be as satisfactory.

Morphological ultrasound can also be performed in the 3rd trimester, between 33 and 34 weeks of gestation, but this usually only happens when the pregnant woman has not had the USG in the 1st or 2nd trimester, there is suspicion of malformation in the baby or when pregnant has developed an infection that could harm the baby’s development. In addition to morphological ultrasound, 3D and 4D ultrasound show details of the baby’s face and also identify illnesses.

What diseases can be identified

Morphological ultrasound done in the 2nd trimester can help identify various developmental problems in the baby such as spina bifida, anencephaly, hydrocephalus, diaphragmatic hernia, kidney changes, Down syndrome or heart disease.

See how your baby should develop normally at 18 weeks.

How to prepare for the ultrasound

Usually no special preparation is needed to perform the morphological ultrasound, however, as a full bladder can help to improve the images and also to elevate the uterus, the obstetrician may advise drinking water before the exam, as well as avoiding completely emptying the bladder, if you feel like going to the bathroom.

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