Technology adds new dimension to ultrasound

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 24, 2008

Mother-to-be Krissy Lipscomb knew her son would have his father’s chin dimple months before the baby entered the world. She isn’t psychic; she was just the recipient of the latest technological advance in the world of babies.

Expectant moms and dads have always enjoyed guessing which of their own features their baby will bear.

But until recently the details of that face couldn’t be known until the baby’s birthday.

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Four-dimensional ultrasounds use sound waves to show images of the moving baby in real time and great detail.

An evolution from their two- and three-dimensional ancestors, the 4-D image shows much more than fingers and toes and a beating heart.

The ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves to generate these images. A transducer is used to produce sound waves.

As these sound waves pass through the body, they bounce back to the transducer creating echoes that are then analyzed by a computer that transforms the echoed sound waves into moving images.

The basic technology is the same for two-dimensional, three-dimensional and four-dimensional ultrasounds. The difference is found in the computer that analyzes the sound waves. A two-dimensional image is a flat, moving image of the fetus. A three-dimensional image is a still image that is constructed using sound waves. A four-dimensional image is a constructed image that moves in real time.

With three-dimensional and four-dimensional images, expectant parents can excitedly view their unborn baby in great detail.

But expectant parents are not the only ones to be thrilled by this cutting-edge technology. Ultrasound technician Gigi Johnson has been giving ultrasounds for 18 years.

“I’ve been doing this for so long now, it was just routine,” Johnson said.

“So when the three-dimensional and four-dimensional ultrasounds came out, it was exciting for me. It was like having a new toy.”

Johnson, who works with Dr. Frank Guedon in Natchez, credits him with keeping up with current technology.

“He doesn’t hesitate about getting new equipment,” Johnson said.

Although 4-D is thrilling for both patients and staff, Johnson still realizes the need for two-dimensional scans.

“Regular scans are better for seeing the whole picture,” Johnson said.

Although she has given hundreds of scans, Johnson is still amazed by the four-dimensional images they produce.

“When you see the picture of the baby and you can see the same features as the parents, whether it be the nose or the ears, it is great,” Johnson said.

Johnson was the one who spotted the chin dimple first.

“It was really neat to see what he was going to look like,” Lipscomb said.

“The dimple in his chin looks just like my husband. That is the first thing Gigi noticed.”

Lipscomb brought family along to share in the four-dimensional ultrasound experience. Along with her sister, Kacy McManus, Lipscomb’s mother, Terry Russ and mother-in-law Jan Lipscomb were able to catch a glimpse of their family’s new bundle of joy.

Lipscomb credits the 4-D scan with easing her worries.

“I am a worry wart,” Lipscomb said.

“The whole pregnancy, I would wonder if he was OK. Seeing his face gave me peace of mind that everything was OK.”