Ultrasound FAQ’s – Pregnancy

What is an OB ultrasound?
An obstetric (OB) ultrasound is a diagnostic examination performed during pregnancy by a physician or specialized technologist. Ultrasound, also called a sonogram, uses high-frequency sound waves sent into the body through a transducer or scanner that is placed on the skin. These sound waves are reflected off the internal organs or structures inside the body and converted into an image on a TV screen in real time.

Is ultrasound safe?
To date, there are no confirmed adverse effects in humans caused by exposure to diagnostic levels of ultrasound. However, it is recommended that ultrasound be used only where medical benefit is expected.

Why am I having an ultrasound?
Ultrasound examinations are performed for a variety of reasons. Most commonly, ultrasound examinations are performed during pregnancy to help your physician determine when your baby is due and to make sure your baby is developing as he/she should. Our office usually performs 2 ultrasounds during pregnancy, one in the 1st trimester and one in the 2nd trimester.

What is the purpose of the 1st trimester ultrasound?

In early pregnancy, it is important to confirm viability, establish an accurate gestational age, and determine the number of fetuses.

What is the purpose of the 2nd trimester (18-20 weeks) ultrasound or anatomy scan?
An ultrasound examination at this time of the pregnancy allows for an assessment of your baby’s growth and development. Abnormal conditions (congenital anomalies or birth defects) may be detected. This ultrasound also helps confirm the due date.

Why do we wait until 18-20 weeks to do the anatomy scan?
It is standard of care to wait until 18-20 weeks before performing the anatomy scan. At this time, your baby has developed enough and is usually large enough to obtain an accurate evaluation of your baby’s heart, brain, organs, kidneys and limbs to be taken. The sonographer will be observing all areas of your baby’s anatomy to obtain the required documentation and measurements that will be reported back to your physician.

Can I find out the sex of my baby?
The gender of your baby can usually be determined at the 18-20 week ultrasound. We understand that pregnancy is an exciting time and know that many families are eager to find out the sex of your baby. Establishing the gender of your baby is important to us, but you should remember that your sonographer also has many other important things to examine to ensure that your baby is healthy and developing normally.

Does an ultrasound examination guarantee that my baby is normal?
No. It is important to know that not all birth defects can be detected by ultrasound. Some abnormalities are too small to be seen or appear later in pregnancy. Some organ systems may be more difficult to assess because of your baby’s position or the size of the mother.

Who is performing the ultrasound examination?
Our in-house sonographer(s) is certified by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) and registered in the specialty of OB/GYN.

Does this office perform 3D/4D ultrasound examinations?
Yes. We do perform these exams as keepsakes, but keep in mind that these types of ultrasound examinations are not medically indicated and are not covered by insurance.  If you are interested in schedule a 3D/4D ultrasound, let us know!


  • Cell phones, recording, taping or photographing are strictly prohibited during your visit to our office.
  • Because many ultrasounds require a high degree of accuracy, technique and observation, we ask that you limit the number of 
people that accompany you to your ultrasound visits.
  • Printed pictures may be given to our patients. We do not give CD’s or DVD’s for medically indicated ultrasounds.

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Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, our policies and restrictions are being updated frequently.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms or you are concerned that you may have been exposed to COVID-19, call the UNC helpline at 1-888-850-2684 before visiting our office, an urgent care location, hospital, or emergency room.

Please reschedule your appointment if you have COVID-19 symptoms or are concerned that you may have been exposed to COVID-19. This can be done through your patient portal or by calling our office at 919-788-4444.

As a courtesy to our patients and staff in order to reduce the risk of exposure, we are STRONGLY DISCOURAGING VISITORS at this time. We request that PATIENTS attend appointments ALONE or with ONE HEALTHY ADULT support person IF NECESSARY.

With some schools being released, we ask that you PLEASE MAKE EVERY EFFORT to arrange childcare to reduce exposure. We will be happy to reschedule your appointment to accommodate this request.

Please visit the CDC and NCDHHS websites for the latest developments.