Does a 3D|4D ultrasound replace a diagnostic ultrasound?

No.  3D|4D ultrasounds are for entertainment purposes only.  Even though they are performed in a perinatal practice by specialty trained sonographers – they are not interpreted by a physician – and are therefore not a substitute for a diagnostic ultrasound.  Furthermore, 3D|4D images are surface renderings and do not capture internal organ structures (where many birth defects occur) nor are they a complete anatomic survey of your baby. 

If I am undergoing an ultrasound my obstetrician ordered at Diablo Valley Perinatal Associates, will I be shown a 3D image at that time? 

Possibly - 3D imaging has specific medical indications that help perinatologists explain and patients understand anatomic abnormalities such as a cleft lip, spina bifida, club foot or anterior abdominal wall defects (again – typically body surface abnormalities).  However, a diagnostic ultrasound is usually performed with two dimensional ultrasound technology to look at the internal organs of a developing baby – such as the brain, heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, and skeletal structures (to name a few).

What is the difference between 3D and 4D ultrasound?

3D ultrasound produces life like three-dimensional images of your baby – still images, while 4D ultrasound produces 3D images in real time motion – a video clip.  Both imaging techniques will be performed at the time of your 3D|4D photo session.  Simply ask the sonographer which imaging modality you prefer at the time of your ultrasound – 3D or 4D - and we will do our best to accommodate your wishes (the baby also has to cooperate).

Why are some 3D|4D photos I see on the internet clear and others not?

There are multiple variables that determine the quality of the 3D|4D ultrasound image(s) obtained that include:

  • The quality of the ultrasound equipment
    • ours is diagnostic quality – this is will not be a variable in your 3D|4D ultrasound at Diablo Valley Perinatal 3D|4D
    • some images posted on other 3D web sites were not actually taken at that site – they are images taken on higher quality equipment and purchased for marketing purposes
  • The body mass index of the woman
    • Lower body mass index translates into clearer ultrasound images
  • The location of the placenta
    • An anterior placenta (on the front of the uterus) just means the ultrasound waves have to go through more tissue before getting to baby – a posterior placenta (on the back of the uterus) results in clearer images
  • The amount of amniotic fluid
    • Amniotic fluid is a friend of ultrasound – the more amniotic fluid around the baby the clearer the pictures become
  • The gestational age of the fetus
    • Advancing gestational age results in more amniotic fluid, a bigger baby and more baby features
  • The position of the fetus
    • A baby who is facing away from the ultrasound probe is the same as a baby turning away from a studio camera.  Similarly, when the baby holds a leg, foot, arm or hand in front of his/her face – those body parts hinder our ability to take a clear unobstructed photo of the baby’s face

How many people can I bring to my 3D/4D session and are children allowed?

Our 3D/4D suite can comfortably seat 4 additional family members or friends.   This number allows the best viewing possible in a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere without feeling cramped or confined.  While this number is less than some of the “shopping mall” 3D locations – we will provide you with a complete DVD of the entire 3D|4D session you may enjoy with as many people as you like in the comfort of your own home.  Yes children are welcome to come with you and enjoy the 3D|4D experience.  This is not the case with a diagnostic ultrasound ordered by your obstetrician at Diablo Valley Perinatal Associates.

Why are children discouraged from coming to a diagnostic ultrasounds (ordered by your obstetrician but ARE allowed at 3D|4D ultrasounds (for entertainment purposes)?

Unfortunately, we diagnose significant birth defects or nonviable pregnancies on a regular basis at Diablo Valley Perinatal Associates.  In just about every case, the parents-to-be have no idea anything is wrong (or went wrong) with their pregnancy.  The news of a problem in a pregnancy is devastating and usually accompanied by tears, questions, a prolonged appointment often lasting hours and many times an unscheduled diagnostic procedure.   While these events are incredibly difficult for expectant parents, they are circumstances that children should never see.  Since we have no idea who will receive wonderful news and who will receive devastating news – we discourage bringing children to any diagnostic ultrasound.
For a 3D|4D ultrasound we require every woman undergo a diagnostic ultrasound prior to her 3D|4D photo session.  This assures us (and you) of a healthy pregnancy and minimizes the risk of unexpected findings at the time of your 3D|4D ultrasound.  As a result – children are absolutely welcome.

What if my baby is not cooperative at the time of my 3D|4D ultrasound?

Our aim is to make your experience at Diablo Valley Perinatal 3D a memorable and enjoyable experience with images to remember for the rest of your life.  Unfortunately, there are times your baby will not be cooperative with our photo session.  Perfect pictures will not happen for everyone every time.  However, we will endeavor to provide you with the best quality 3D|4D photos possible.  Our personal and professional standards are high.  If we feel the 3D|4D experience was significantly below our standard due to fetal position – we will reschedule your appointment and repeat the ultrasound free of charge.  If however, the images we obtain are the best that we can technically achieve, and the limitations of the 3D|4D session are the result of factors such as maternal body mass index and/or placental location, you will not be rescheduled.  We reserve the right to determine if your ultrasound experience is significantly below our quality 3D ultrasound session. 


I had a 3D ultrasound in my previous pregnancy – and this was nothing like that experience - the quality of images at Diablo Valley Perinatal 3D were 10 times better.


I’ve seen 3D pictures on the internet before, but I had no idea how the experience of seeing my own baby would affect me - I cried.