No. 359-Obstetric Ultrasound Biological Effects and Safety

Michiel C Van den Hof
Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada: JOGC, Journal D'obstétrique et Gynécologie du Canada: JOGC 2018, 40 (5): 627-632

OBJECTIVE: To review the biological effects and safety of obstetric ultrasound.

OUTCOME: Outline the circumstances in which safety may be a concern with obstetric ultrasound.

EVIDENCE: The 2005 version of this guideline was used as a basis and updated following a Medline search and review of relevant publications. Sources included guidelines and reports by Health Canada and the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine.

VALUES: Review by principal author and the Diagnostic Imaging Committee of the SOGC. The quality of evidence and classification of recommendations have been adapted from the Report of the Canadian Task Force on the Periodic Health Examination.

BENEFITS, HARMS, AND COSTS: Obstetric ultrasound should only be done for medical reasons, and exposure should be kept as low as reasonably achievable because of the potential for tissue heating. Higher energy is of particular concern in the following scenarios: Doppler studies (pulsed, colour, and power), first trimester ultrasound with a long trans-vesical path (>5 cm), second or third trimester exams when bone is in the focal zone, when scanning tissue with minimal perfusion (embryonic), or in patients who are febrile. Operators can minimize risk by limiting dwell time and exposure to critical structures. It is also important to be aware of equipment-generated exposure information.


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