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What Is 4D Ultrasound Technology?

April 19, 2011

The introduction of 3D ultrasound technology brought new clinical capabilities to light: What if we could capture an image of a fetus that was multi-dimensional? Then, GE Healthcare upped the ante even more: What if we could capture the image in four dimensions, as it moves through time to help determine crucial medical information?

Not only did GE’s Voluson 730 4D ultrasound achieve this goal, it also allowed physicians to perform more diagnostic tests to help assess the health of the fetus, with minimal trauma.

3D ultrasound works by creating a dataset of a large number of 2D images, or planes. Once all this 2D data is assembled in one place, you can “walk” through the various 2D planes in rotation, just as you’d flip through the pages of a book. The ”walking” process creates multiplanar images and renderings that let you see the image in 3D.

Meanwhile, 4D ultrasound, or “real-time 3D ultrasound,” rests on the concept that as computers grow ever more powerful, we can now use ultrasound equipment to acquire and display 3D datasets in real time, as a patient is being scanned.

Last week, GE Healthcare announced the latest generation of its 4-D ultrasound technology: the Voluson Signature Series. The Voluson S6 and S8 systems have excellent image quality, allowing physicians to look for possible health problems earlier. In addition, the systems are fast and easy to transport, which can help reduce costs for both medical centers and patients. This S-Series introduction carries on the3D/4D innovation tradition that GE has had for nearly 10 years.

According to Arvind Gopalratnam, GE Healthcare’s Global Communications Manager for Ultrasound, 4D ultrasound technology shows more than just basic medical data – it also reveals crucial information about a fetus.

“Ultrasound systems can be used to determine fetal age, evaluate multiple and/or high-risk pregnancies, detect fetal and placental abnormalities, identify structural problems with the uterus, and determine ectopic pregnancies and other abnormalities,” he says. As a result, he adds, “Women know what to expect and can feel confident during their pregnancy.”