Ultrasound for dating

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A typical ultrasound takes between 30 minutes and an hour.

Ultrasounds usually are not uncomfortable, and you are awake and alert during the procedure.

For many women, especially after 8 weeks gestation, sufficient information about the baby may be obtained with transabdominal ultrasound only.

However, in the early pregnancy, the developing embryo is very small (at 6 weeks gestation, the baby is only 5-9mm long) and a transvaginal ultrasound may be required to get a better image of the baby.

Most ultrasounds are done using a transducer on the surface of the skin.

Ultrasounds do have some diagnostic limitations, however; sound waves do not transmit well through dense bone or parts of the body that may hold air or gas, such as the bowel. Ultrasound imaging can help doctors during procedures such as needle biopsies, which require the doctor to remove tissue from a very precise area inside the body for testing in a lab. Ultrasounds sometimes are used to detect and treat soft-tissue injuries.

The gel helps improve contact between the probe and your skin. It involves scanning with the ultrasound probe lying in the vagina.

Transvaginal ultrasound usually produces better and clearer images of the female pelvic organs including the developing pregnancy, because the ultrasound probe lies closer to these structures.

Or you may be advised to drink several glasses of water in the time leading up to the test and refrain from using the bathroom to ensure that your bladder is full.

You should wear comfortable clothing that is easy to remove or partially remove.

Many people who hear the term "ultrasound" likely picture a pregnant woman in her doctor's office getting a sneak peek of the baby growing inside her womb -- perhaps even finding out whether she should paint the nursery pink or blue.

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