Here at Take A Peek, St Helen’s private clinic for pregnancy scans, our 3D and 4D baby scans are second to none, enabling you to celebrate the growth of your baby using ultrasound imaging (sonography). But what is the history of ultrasound technology?
Ultrasound has been used by people since the 1800s, after physicists began to better understand how sound vibrations worked, discovering echolocation from bats’ ability to navigate by inaudible sound. Ultrasound is sound that vibrates at a very high frequency, meaning that it can’t be perceived by the human ear in a similar manner to UV light. This means you can rest assured that we are unlikely to be disrupting your baby by scanning them during your visit to Take A Peek!
One of the first precursors of the medical ultrasound equipment that we use today came from SONAR (Sound Navigation and Ranging) which was first invented during the First World War in an attempt to detect submarines. SONAR uses echoes bounced back by the sound to see what an object looks like – exactly what we do in order to see your baby!
Ultrasound was first used for diagnostic reasons in medicine in the 1940s although it was not used in obstetrics (the branch of medicine concerned with childbirth) until the late 1950s. In 1955, Professor Ian Donald, an obstetrician at the Glasgow Royal Maternity Hospital, used industrial ultrasound equipment to experiment looking into the bodies of live patients, leading him to conclude that the technology could be used to monitor the development of a baby in a safe and non-invasive way. Ultrasound has now been used in this manner since the early 1960s, with the first case of ultrasound being able to detect a foetus’ heartbeat recorded in 1972.
It was in the late 1970s that ultrasound became a vital element of the care given to pregnant women as a growing number of ways to measure the baby’s development emerged and a greater emphasis was placed on diagnosing defects earlier, hence why we offer a detailed wellbeing check to babies at around 20-22 weeks.
Many developments have occurred in ultrasound since, including the water-based gel used as part of a scan that allows the ultrasound to produce better results; the real-time colour imaging which allows sonographers to track blood flow; the modern portable ultrasound scanner now seen at every hospital, and the 3D ultrasound technology which we use to give you a detailed look at the face of your baby for the first time!
The future is 4D
As science has progressed even further into the 21st century, the ultrasound devices at our disposal have become even more accurate and detailed than before. As a result, we are now also able to provide 4D baby scans that enable you to watch your son-or-daughter-to-be wriggle, yawn or stretch in real time, offering you an unforgettable experience. When you take a peek at your child before and after using our 4D scans, you won’t need to see the difference!