Ultrasound is a safe test performed by sonographers that uses sound waves to produce an image of your baby. These images are reviewed by radiologists who provide each patient or referring physician with a verified report of the findings.

An ultrasound is typically arranged by your health-care provider and is done to examine the anatomy (formation of body parts) of your baby.

Ultrasound can show if the pregnancy is viable.
Ultrasound can confirm the gestational age of the pregnancy.
Ultrasound can show if there is more than one baby.
Ultrasound can determine where in the womb the placenta is located.
Ultrasound can detect major abnormalities in the baby.

At Mount Sinai Hospital, the ultrasound also acts as an additional step in screening for chromosomal disorders, mainly Down syndrome, Trisomy 18 and Trisomy 13. It does this by looking for ultrasound “markers,” sometimes called “soft markers.” These are ultrasound findings, which are NOT abnormalities, but can be associated with certain chromosome problems. This means the chance that a chromosome problem exists is greater. These markers are frequently seen in healthy babies who do not have a chromosome problem and, in most cases, are not associated with adverse outcome. Many are considered variations of normal development. However, some findings are more significant than others, and each reflect on a woman’s chance of having a baby with either Down syndrome or Trisomy 18. Some of these markers may show an increased chance of other problems as well, such as cystic fibrosis.

If markers are reported on your ultrasound, your physician will discuss them with you, and it is recommended that they be incorporated into any screening results you have already had. In most cases the newly adjusted risk for chromosome abnormality is not high enough to suggest the need for amniocentesis.