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3D/4D Ultrasound in Prenatal Diagnosis: Is it Time for Routine Use?


Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology: March 2012 - Volume 55 - Issue 1 - p 336–351
doi: 10.1097/GRF.0b013e3182446ef7
Imaging in Obstetrics: State of the Art

During the past 22 years 3-dimensional/4-dimensional ultrasonography (3D/4D US) has evolved into a powerful technique. In contrast to conventional 2-dimensional (2D) US that only allows imaging of single planes, 3D/4D US offers several image displays that do not exist in 2D imaging. In obstetrics, in particular, where amniotic fluid surrounds the embryo/fetus, this offers ideal preconditions for the assessment of the surface of the embryo/fetus. 3D/4D US offers a precise demonstration of the normal and abnormal anatomy of the fetus to the parents. Digital storage of volumes permits virtual examinations by reloading of volumes and navigating through them in the absence of the patient. The value of 3D/4D US is undisputable in specific clinical situations, such as facial clefts, brain anomalies, and spinal defects. Is it time, however, to recommend it in routine obstetrical scanning?

*Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Hospital Nordwest, Frankfurt, Germany

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Rush Fetal and Neonatal Medicine Center, Rush University, Chicago, Illinois

The authors declare that they have nothing to disclose.

Correspondence: Eberhard Merz, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Hospital Nordwest, Krankenhaus Nordwest Steinbacher, Hohl 2-26 60488 Frankfurt/Main, Germany. E-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.