An ultrasound scan uses high frequency sound waves (beyond the range of human hearing) to create images of organs and structures inside the body.
The ultrasound waves are delivered by a small handheld sensor that is moved over the surface of the skin. The sensor then picks up the reflected sound waves as they bounce off various organs within the body. A computer, linked to the sensor, turns the reflected sound waves into images. It is a very commonly used test and it is thought to be harmless.
Examples of ultrasound use are:
Monitoring an unborn baby
An ultrasound scan is a routine procedure for pregnant women. It produces a clear three-dimensional (3D) picture of the foetus. Real-time moving images are displayed on a monitor and will:
- highlight any abnormalities in the baby's development, and
- indicate whether there is more than one baby.
Highlighting congenital heart disease
Ultrasound is used to examine the structures of the heart, such as the valves, and the auricles and ventricles (heart chambers). This type of ultrasound scan is called an echocardiogram.
Should parents be told their unborn baby’s sex?
Use a roles, rights and responsibilities worksheet for the following roles: the doctor, the mother, the father and the foetus to work through your views on this. Now write out a full answer to the above question explaining your final decision.