How photorealistic ultrasound images are changing the way parents bond with their children before birth
Estimated reading time: 6-8 minutes
For expectant parents, the first ultrasound is a moment they will remember forever. Now, a new tool is helping families to bond with incredible renders from inside the womb.
A new tool that’s capable of rendering photorealistic images from the womb is giving expecting parents a closer look into their developing baby’s world – right down to their facial features. This ultrasound technology makes the experience all the more incredible for expecting parents, some of whom are seeing their unborn child for the first time.
We spoke to Dr. Michael Ruma, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Perinatal Associates of New Mexico. Working in private practice for the last decade, he has become an expert user of ultrasound and tells us about the interactive experiences he and his patients go through when using the latest evolution of ultrasound technology.
Building bonds before birth
For expecting parents, the first ultrasound is a life moment they will remember forever. Witnessing the development of their pregnancy from the first ultrasound exam to seeing the face of their unborn child on ultrasound in the coming weeks, parents form a strong bond with their baby well before birth. For Dr. Ruma, conducting these ultrasound evaluations using technology such as TrueVue lets him see the reactions of parents, giving him a unique insight into just how profound these moments are for them.
“Parents are usually excited and surprised that they are able to see their baby in such detail. Going from 2D grayscale images to life-like rendering using TrueVue 3D technology creates remarkable reactions which are a pleasure to see. Parents love to look at their baby’s face, making the connection and having that first moment to bond with what they have created together.”
The technology also has its own emotional and practical impact for clinicians. Reflecting on his role as a caregiver, Dr. Ruma reflects on the human side of the ultrasound which turns a fetal evaluation into an incredibly fulfilling experience.
“Part of our job is to take care of the patient, assess the pregnancy and verify the health of the fetus, but technology like Philips TrueVue enhances our job not only as caregivers, but also as educators – we have the ability to share amazing moments with patients. It is a pleasure to not just focus on the clinical portion of the ultrasound, but to have fun with the patient during a huge life moment and be a part of their journey.”
From grayscale to full-scale
When asked about the history of ultrasound imaging technology, Dr. Ruma highlights just how far things have progressed in recent years. “Although 3D technology in ultrasound has been around since the early 1990s, the clarity and quality of those images were significantly limited. Over the years with the use of advanced software and faster computer processors, 3D technology now has the ability to create images that are truly life-like and photorealistic.”
“It’s drastically different than conventional ultrasound because 2D ultrasound only provides a grayscale image of the fetus. TrueVue 3D imaging appears to bring the image to life as if looking at a high-resolution photograph taken with today’s most advanced cameras.”
Seeing their unborn child in such detail may also alleviate many of the natural anxieties parents feel during a pregnancy, helping them find that all-important peace of mind during an emotional time.
“The 3D imaging assists with that…simply being able to visualize what the couple has achieved brings them peace of mind and excitement.”
Crucially, ultrasound technology plays an important diagnostic role as well. By having the ability to see accurate representations within the womb, doctors have more ways to identify abnormalities and better prepare for complicated births.
“The faster and easier we can achieve these 3D images is a real assistance to the clinician. The technology helps us make the entire process more efficient.”
As the technology continues to evolve, diagnostic capabilities will also come into their own, helping clinicians further evaluate the health of the baby and mother during pregnancy. However, this isn’t to say that traditional 2D ultrasound is obsolete just yet – as a proven technology its role is essential, and still plays a critical role in Dr. Ruma’s clinic.
“As with most healthcare technology, evolution and adoption have their own pace and it will be thrilling to see where 3D ultrasound takes us in the future.”
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Perinatal Associates of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico
As a board-certified maternal-fetal medicine specialist, Dr. Ruma’s top priority is caring for patients with a high risk pregnancy. Helping women overcome medical, surgical or obstetrical problems with optimal care during their pregnancy is a great joy for him.