Did you know October is Medical Ultrasound Month? This month, the team at Rosetta Radiology would like to dig into the differences between the three different types of ultrasounds. Often used to visualize and check on babies while they are still in the womb, ultrasounds can be used for many different diagnostic reasons. Let’s take a look at the different types of ultrasounds and the differences among the three types.

2D Ultrasounds

Also known as two-dimensional ultrasounds, 2D ultrasounds visualize the inside of the body (using sound waves!) in only two dimensions, producing a flat picture. This is the typical black and white, v-shaped ultrasound image you have probably seen if you’ve ever seen a baby’s ultrasound pictures. Originally developed in the 1970s to view unborn babies, 2D ultrasounds now have a variety of diagnosing potential: visualizing blood flow, identifying internal masses, and much more.

3D Ultrasounds

In the mid-1990s, progress was made on the ultrasound front; 3D images could now be compiled from 2D data. This changed the imaging scene completely, from prenatal visualization to cardiac intravascular rendering and beyond. The advancement of 3D ultrasounds allowed radiation-sensitive individuals the option of receiving high-caliber diagnostic imaging without being exposed to ionizing radiation.

Is 3D Ultrasound Better than 2D?

The answer to this question ultimately depends on what the ultrasound is being used for. Generally speaking, 3D ultrasounds provide a more visually pleasing and medically useful image. For expectant mothers, seeing their baby’s face in three dimensions is nothing short of breathtaking. Doctors who need to get a 3-dimensional image of a tumor without ionizing radiation will be able to use a 3D ultrasound if necessary.

For breast cancer screenings, we recommend that you opt for a 2D mammogram and a 2D ultrasound of the breasts. In cases where patients have masses of “dense” breast tissue, ultrasound is extremely helpful in making the correct diagnosis.

4D Ultrasounds

While this sounds like a highly sophisticated upgrade, it’s essentially just a video of a 3D ultrasound being taken. 4D ultrasounds introduce a fourth dimension: time. This type of diagnostic imaging is extremely helpful in the visualization of components of an organ in real-time, especially for vascular issues and assessing the strength of a fetal heartbeat. 

What Does a 4D Ultrasound Show?

Like we mentioned above, 4D ultrasounds take recordings using sound in four dimensions: the x-axis, the y-axis, the z-axis, and all of these over time. Much like a video game renders frames in three axes, so does a 4D ultrasound, creating a three-dimensional image that moves in real-time. For further reading about 4D ultrasounds, check out these 4 Facts You Should Know About 4D Baby Ultrasounds.

Ultrasounds Are Just One of Our Imaging Services

Here at Rosetta Radiology, we offer a variety of imaging services in Manhattan. If you’re interested in learning more about our radiology services or scheduling a 2D, 3D, or 4D ultrasound with our team of professional radiologists and technicians, schedule an appointment with us or contact the team today!