What is the difference between ultrasound and sonogram?

difference between ultrasound and sonogram

If this is your first pregnancy, you might wonder if there’s a difference between an ultrasound and sonogram. These diagnostics provide a way to check on the baby’s progress in development. Also, obstetricians use this imaging to check on the placenta and other areas surrounding the baby.

The best part about this exam is that causes absolutely no harm to the baby.

So we’ll look at the difference in both types—ultrasound and sonogram—as well as the purposes they serve. I also included some information on to how to prepare and what to expect in case this is your first procedure.

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What is an ultrasound?

Ultrasound provides the means through which a sonogram is obtained. It’s a rate at which high- frequency sound waves, that we are unable to hear, bounce off of things. These sound waves are used to produce an image called the sonogram. Thus, this technique is called sonography.Sonography is used for the following purposes:

  • Check on the condition of a baby in utero
  • Determine the cause of pain and swelling
  • Examine internal organs (the stomach is rather tricky, though, due to gas)
  • Assess heart damage from a heart attack

For a pregnant woman, this test is ideal because:

  • It causes no harm to the mother or baby
  • It does not involve any kind of radiation—only sound waves
  • The images are taken “in real time” which means you can see any movement as it happens

In regard to pregnancy, there are two ways ultrasound is used to check on the baby:

  • Doppler—used to examine the blood flow, the placenta, umbilical cord
  • Imaging (scanning)—displays either a two-dimensional or a 3-D picture on a monitor

What is a sonogram?

Specifically, a sonogram is the application of ultrasound technology. It’s the image of the baby in utero. (Or, in other situations, it’s the image of an organ.) A sonogram is obtained through an ultrasound scan. The image can be printed out almost like a photograph or saved to a CD Rom.

Besides the difference between ultrasound and sonogram, how do both help?

This procedure is quite useful in monitoring a pregnancy. An ultrasound tech, a hospital employee in the imaging department, performs the procedure. Your obstetrician will use this imaging to examine the following:

  • The position of the baby
  • The position and condition of the placenta
  • The amount of amniotic fluid

Also, the doctor checks for:

  • Any congenital conditions
  • The possibility of multiples
  • Any changes in the cervix
  • The size and development of the baby
  • The gender (if you’d like to know ahead of time)

Better yet, if the option is possible, your obstetrician might order a 3D ultrasound which gives a more detailed image of your baby. With this type, you can actually see what your baby looks like!

What are the details of the procedure?

Hospital personnel will notify you of the following instructions:

  • Wear loose-fitting clothing, preferably a two-piece outfit since only the lower part of your abdomen will be uncovered (unless a transvaginal ultrasound is also ordered)
  • Leave jewelry at home

And that is the extent of the preparation. It’s very simple, as you can see!

What should I expect?

The exam room is dimly lit so that the sonographer or radiologist can easily see the monitor. Also, the room’s temperature is somewhat cool.

You will be asked to lie down on your back on the exam table. The sonographer will then apply a warm gel to your stomach. This gel will enable the transducer to maintain contact on the area that will be scanned.

The sonographer will then rub the transducer back and forth to gain a clear image of the baby, placenta, and so forth. You might feel some pressure from the transducer, but this is totally painless. While obtaining the necessary images, the sonographer will also record sound emitting from your womb, such as the baby’s heartbeat.

Once the exam is completed, the sonographer will wipe off any excess gel and hand another towel to you to pick up any missed spots. After that, you should be able to continue your normal activity.

Conclusion

So this is just about everything you’ve wondered about in regard to the difference between ultrasound and sonogram. Hopefully, this information reassures you that the procedure is perfectly harmless and does not take long at all.

But most of all, remember to enjoy this amazing milestone where you’ll get to see your baby’s image. Do you have any stories to share or questions on this procedure? Please, feel free to share; we’d love to hear from you!

Sarah Palmer

Hi! I’m Sarah. My husband and I have a beautiful little girl; plus we’re anxiously awaiting the arrival of Baby #2, so this is a very exciting time for us. Throughout this amazing journey called Parenthood, I’ve learned so much and love sharing my experiences with other parents at SarahsLovelyFamily.com. I’d love to share my discoveries with you too!

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