Three-dimensional (3D) ultrasound is a natural development of the imaging technology. Fast computers are essential to enable 3D and four-dimensional (4D) ultrasound pictures. A short review of the technical points and clinical aspects is presented. Our purpose is to acquaint the reader with the possibilities of this new technology and to increase awareness of its present clinical usefulness. A short review of technical information is provided.
The advantages of 3D and 4D ultrasound in certain areas are unequivocal. Its use in the workup of fetal anomalies involving the face, limbs, thorax, spine and the central nervous system are already applied by most centers.
The use of this technology in applying color Doppler, in guiding needles for different puncture procedures as well in evaluating the fetal heart are under close research scrutiny. The bonding effect between the parents and their future offspring is becoming evident as 3D ultrasound is used. Consulting specialists understand fetal pathology better and can better plan postnatal interventions. 4D or real time 3D ultrasound was developed and is expected to achieve new meaning with the planned introduction of electronic transducer multilinear arrays.
3D ultrasound is an extremely promising imaging tool to image the fetus. In spite of the scant outcome studies the potential of 3D ultrasound is understood by a large number of obstetricians, maternal fetal specialists and imaging specialists.
aDepartment of Obstetrics and Gynecology, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA; bDepartment of Obstetrics and Gynecology, UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California, USA
Correspondence to Ilan Timor-Tritsch, Director of OB/GYN Ultrasound, NYU School of Medicine, New York, NY 10016, USA. Tel: +1 212 263 8610; fax: +1 212 263 8690