3D Ultrasound vs 4D Ultrasound
3D and 4D ultrasounds, like 2D ultrasounds, can be used to view internal organs or other parts inside the body. However, it is mainly used to look at a baby inside the womb. The main difference between the two is the addition of the fourth dimension, which is time. A 3D ultrasound produces a 3D image of the baby that provides a more detailed and realistic view of the baby without any movement. With 4D ultrasound, instead of a 3D image, you get a 3D image of the baby in real time.
The 3D image is achieved by compositing multiple 2D images, taken from different angles, to create a 3D model of the baby. Like the relationship of an image to film, a 4D ultrasound takes these 3D images at a very fast speed and combines them to create the illusion of movement. For most cases, a 2D ultrasound is sufficient to serve the purpose of a routine checkup, but the popularity of 3D and 4D ultrasound comes from parents who want “mementos” of their unborn child.
Since both 3D and 4D ultrasound are not covered by health insurance, it is important to know that 4D ultrasound is more expensive than 3D ultrasound. It’s not just the cost price of the new equipment, but also the fact that more processing power is needed to quickly produce those images and produce a video in real time.
Lastly, 4D ultrasound may cause additional risk to the fetus than 3D ultrasound. The risk is not due to the ultrasound itself, as there is no difference between 3D and 4D ultrasound. The risk comes from prolonged exposure because parents want to get a better view of the baby, a longer video, or even wait for the baby to move just to watch the video. The popularity of 4D ultrasound has also stimulated the proliferation of clinics that offer this service for no medical reason. Inexperienced or insufficient training, with respect to technicians, is also a risk factor. To reduce or eliminate these risks, always make sure the person performing the ultrasound is medically trained and do not take the ultrasound longer than necessary.