Ultrasound accuracy depends on many factors – for both 2D and 3D baby ultrasounds
Your first baby ultrasound is portrayed in movies and TV as a beautiful shared discovery on the journey to giving birth. And it can be a very happy moment.
But the part that rarely gets mentioned is the stress you feel as an expectant parent. At any moment you could find out that something is wrong with your pregnancy.
If you have chosen to learn the gender of your baby, you’re likely doing so via an ultrasound. But ultrasounds do more than just determine gender. They are an opportunity to look for fetal anomalies that could impact the health of you or your baby.
Ultrasound accuracy depends on a number of factors including the baby’s position, the age of the baby, the technician, and the equipment used. The onset of 3D ultrasounds has led to advancements in the ability to accurately determine a baby’s gender in the womb.
There are qualities of both 2D and 3D ultrasounds that are strong indicators that a technician uses to determine the gender of your baby.
Let’s start with 2D ultrasounds.
The hamburger sign (for girls)
An ultrasound technician will first look for girl genitalia – labia and clitoris – when performing an ultrasound.
When female genitalia are seen, it is commonly referred to as the “hamburger sign.” This is because the clitoris situated between the labial lips looks like a hamburger between two buns.
The turtle sign (for boys)
If your ultrasound technician is looking for a boy, they are looking for something commonly referred to as the “turtle sign.”
This occurs when you can see the tip of the penis sticking out from behind the testicles. This is sign can be difficult to see depending on the age and positioning of the baby. That is why there are multiple ways to determine gender during an ultrasound.
The erect penis
Even as a fetus, baby boys can have erections. If you have an ultrasound during that time, you can see very clearly defined male genitalia.
It is normal for boys to have erections even during gestation. Odds are you will notice erections after birth as well, during diaper changes.
The absence of a penis
One sign that mothers can assume automatically indicates a girl is the fact that they don’t clearly see a penis in the ultrasound. It’s common sense that if the ultrasound technician fails to find a penis the baby is a girl.
But there is more to identifying a girl than the absence of a penis in an ultrasound.
In fact, a clitoris and a penis are roughly the same size and shape during early pregnancy. So the absence of a penis is not necessarily a reliable indicator for ultrasounds in early pregnancy.
The recent availability and popularity of 3D ultrasounds has impacted how ultrasounds are used to identify a baby’s gender. 3D baby ultrasounds are typically more accurate. They allow the technician to see body parts more clearly and eliminate some of the guesswork involved in 2D baby ultrasounds.
3D ultrasounds have a few other advantages over 2D ultrasounds. Let’s look at some 3D ultrasound advantages below.
Earlier gender identification
The use of a 3D baby ultrasound can detect gender earlier than with a traditional 2D baby ultrasound.
According to a study published in the British Journal of Radiology, among 150 women who had 3D ultrasounds in their first trimester, 128 – or 85.3 percent – were given correct gender predictions.
These predictions occured between weeks 11 and 14. Therefore, a 3D ultrasound can be an effective way of identifying the gender of a baby in the first trimester.
Clearer baby ultrasound images
Many families prefer 3D images. They look more like what they perceive a baby to look like in real life than the flatter 2D images.
Often, 2D images can be difficult to parse without a technician or a doctor standing over your shoulder and pointing out which body part is which.
On the other hand, some families find the more detailed 3D images too realistic. They would prefer to have a less fully developed idea of their baby’s shape and form before he or she is born.
More accurate diagnoses
Since 3D baby ultrasounds provide a more holistic picture of your baby’s shape and form, they are able to better identify and diagnose certain defects. These include:
- Fetal face defects
- Skeletal abnormalities
- Neural tube defects
- Structural congenital anomalies
4D and 5D ultrasounds
4D ultrasound technology enables live streaming of 3D images. Patients are able to view the live motion of fetal valves, heart wall blood flow, and other elements of the ultrasound.
4D ultrasound technology is 3D ultrasound in motion. Most people seek 4D baby ultrasounds for keepsake videos.
5D ultrasound technology is still largely in development. The main advantage of a 5D baby ultrasound is a type of automation where you undergo a scan, and the results are auto-populated for you.
5D ultrasounds improve technician workflow. That is their primary benefit. The benefits of 5D ultrasounds to patients are fairly marginal and still unknown, as the technology is still developing.