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The Complexity of Fetal Imaging: Reconciling Clinical Care With Patient Entertainment

Simonsen, Sara Ellis RN, MSPH1,2; Branch, D Ware MD1,3; Rose, Nancy C. MD1,3

doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e31818f0c0c
Current Commentary

Currently in the United States, pregnant women may obtain both medical fetal ultrasonography for screening and commercial fetal ultrasonography for entertainment purposes. The proliferation of commercial fetal ultrasonography suggests that medical screening alone does not satisfy patient expectations regarding fetal imaging. We investigated the prevalence of nonmedical fetal imaging and patient experiences and perceptions with both medical and nonmedical ultrasonography in our metropolitan area. We initiate a dialogue to explore the distinctions between medical and nonmedical fetal ultrasound imaging and the role of entertainment imaging in the medical setting. Concerns about safety, false reassurance, and unnecessary anxiety that might be generated by nonmedical ultrasonography should prompt us to examine the expectations of women regarding entertainment imaging, current clinical practice, and the potential for regulation of this commercial industry.

An investigation of the role of fetal imaging in the medical and commercial setting suggests that patients expect entertainment to be part of their experience.

From the 1University of Utah Health Sciences Center, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Salt Lake City, Utah; the 2University of Utah Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, Division of Public Health, Salt Lake City, Utah; and the 3Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Intermountain Health Care, Murray, Utah.

The authors thank Dr. Michael Mennuti and Dr. Erin Clark for their assistance with this project.

Presented in part as a platform presentation at the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine, New York, New York, March 15–18, 2007.

Corresponding author: Nancy C. Rose, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 30 North 1900 East, Room 2B200, Salt Lake City, UT 84132; e-mail:

Financial Disclosure The authors have no potential conflicts of interest to disclose.

© 2008 by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.