Are Many Diagnostic Ultrasounds Harmful?

QUESTION

Dear Ms Ultrasound,
I am Rohit from India. My wife is in the 6th month of pregnancy (on 3rd of this month, 5 months pregnancy completed). My wife has had the following ultrasound in this month:

• On 4th .. first doctor at native place
• On 17th .. second doctor at native place

The first doctor doesn't match our expectations and so we went for second doctor, which indeed is very nice. This was to just have initial check-up in case we plan to have deliver at native place.

• On 19th .. my workplace doctor, a gynecologist, who usually does an ultrasound whenever we visit her.

And now because it's the 6th month of pregnancy, my work place doctor is insisting to get one ultrasound done through a specialist this week.I have read a lot that there aren't any side effects of Ultrasound. Please tell me -- with above frequency, will these ultrasounds pose any problem to our baby? Will it be safe to go for another ultrasound this week?

Please reply soon as you are expert and must have done a lots of research in it.

ANSWER

Hello Rohit,
Let me put your mind at ease. Diagnostic Ultrasound has NEVER been shown to cause any harmful affects to a fetus. To my knowledge, there are NO ultrasounds machines that are capable of using frequencies in any known harmful range.

Most ultrasound machines have their obstetrical settings at the lowest ranges possible and we try to minimize using what is called doppler. Doppler shows blood flow and is usually not used a lot during an exam.

In America, it is quite common for women to have multiple ultrasounds during a pregnancy. I have done as many as 10 ultrasounds on a mother, when there is a problem we are following. For example: a woman with twins, towards the end of the 3rd trimester, may come in every week to have an ultrasound.I checked with our Physical Therapist here and asked her about therapeutic ultrasound (for healing only) frequencies. She said that she has never heard of any harmful affects of ultrasound in her field either.

I know it is a time of worry, when a woman is pregnant; especially if it is the first. Try and relax and know these ultrasounds won't cause any problems.

-- Jane, RDMS

Jane Foley

Jane Foley has worked as a Sonographer (Ultrasound Technologist) since 1979. Jane has lived and worked in many parts of the world including Saudi Arabia. She is a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer or RDMS. She pulls a wealth of information from her experience in the field of Radiology and her interactions with such a broad cross-section of cultures she has visited. She now makes her home on the island of Maui with her English husband, Michael.