3D & 4D Pregnancy Ultrasound Scan

3D &4D Ultrasound Scans During Pregnancy

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Sanjana Sainani (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
View more Gynecologist/Obstetrician Our Panel of Experts

It is always magical to see your unborn baby in its almost actual form. Seeing this creates a certain connection with the parents who are waiting eagerly to get a glimpse of their baby. 3D and 4D scans have made this possible in a very realistic way. Here is everything you should know about

What Are 3D and 4D Ultrasound Scans?

Ultrasound scans such as 3D and 4D are like real-time photos of your baby. In a 3D scan, multiple pictures of the baby are taken in 2D and then put together to create a 3D image effect. In a 4D scan, the pictures are taken in real-time, and you can see what your baby is doing inside you at that point in time, such as moving its legs and arms or even opening and closing its eyes. This is more like live streaming or a video. The time component is the 4th dimension that is added to the 3D scan and, hence, it is referred to as a 4D scan.

Difference Between 2D, 3D and 4D Scans

A decade ago, pregnant moms could see their babies before they were born with the help of 2D scans. However, 2D scans had some limitations. One could see only grey and hazy images of the baby. Such scans were useful only to see the internal organs as the ultrasound waves used to create images of the baby’s organs and not their full form.

These days, mothers-to-be are far luckier and can see how their little-one, actually, looks before birth. 3D scans are far better than the 2D ones as they put the pieces of the scanned photos together and create a more real looking baby’s form. You can see your baby’s face, legs and arms.

4D scans have further improved technology and software and help you see the baby in real-time (live). Now, the parents-to-be can see their cutie-pie moving, yawning, kicking, blinking its eyes, and sucking. It is a delight to see what technology has to offer in terms of baby scans. Though all these scans are done for medical reasons, they help create a bond between the parents and the baby, and nothing can match the joy it gives to the parents.

Why You Need 3D and 4D Pregnancy Scan?

Ultrasound scans are an important tool to check the internal organs and health of a growing foetus. They help the gynaecologist identify whether the baby has any complications or not. This identification helps them treat the baby at the earliest. These scans help the doctor monitor the baby for any anomalies such as cleft lip, spinal cord problems and other birth defects. They also help the doctor monitor amniotic fluid levels.

When You Need 3D and 4D Scans

These ultrasound scans are optional. They are not a part of the prenatal tests. If you do not want to have any of these scans, it is perfectly fine, and you can keep your doctor informed about the same. The doctor will advise you if she sees a medically relevant need or some probable complication. If you decide to have a scan, it is usually done within 26 weeks to 30 weeks. It is best not taken earlier because the baby would not have fat under his/her skin. So, it is possible that you might not get clear images of your baby.

How Does 3D And 4D Scan Work?

An ultrasound scan is also known as sonography as it uses high-frequency sound waves to get image slices of the baby. This is how such scans work:

  • A transducer or a probe is a device used to send ultrasound signals inside the womb. The transducer is first coated with a conductive gel that helps the waves penetrate smoothly.
  • The ultrasound signals, upon encountering an obstacle or structure, are reflected back, and the software captures them as images on the computer screen.
  • The strength and time of the reflecting waves create images, and this information is captured as pictures or videos.
  • These slices are then assembled to get a photograph of the baby.

3D and 4D Scan Results

These scans are not standard diagnostic procedures in the prenatal tests. They are merely indicative of possible complications or any birth defects. Therefore, it is up to the doctor to interpret the results. If she notices any possible complications, further investigative tests will be advised.

3D and 4D Scan Results

How Often the Scan is Done

It is quite common for doctors to do a 2D scan on a regular basis to keep track of the baby’s progress. It is generally a good test to know the baby’s vitals, amniotic fluid levels, and the baby’s growth. The 3D and 4D scans are not recommended as much as the 2D scans. They are only done to study the foetus closely and look for any birth defects. While there is no reliable evidence to suggest that 3D and 4D scans could be harmful to the baby or the mother in any way, it is recommended to limit them and consult your doctor before opting for them privately.


3D Scan

  1. It has better visualisation of foetal heart structures because it projects views that are not attainable by 2D imaging.
  2. It helps diagnose foetal face defects like a cleft lip.
  3. It helps diagnose foetal musculoskeletal or neural defects.
  4. It takes less time to obtain standard plane visualisation.
  5. It is easy to study and does not require a very skilled or experienced person for a diagnosis of common foetal anomalies.
  6. The recorded volume data can be made available virtually for expert opinion and better diagnosis.

4D Scan

  1. Shorter time for foetal heart screening and diagnosis.
  2. Data obtained during the scan can be sent for expert review even to doctors residing in remote areas. It can also be used for training purposes.
  3. Enhanced parental bonding with the baby.
  4. Positive bonding with the baby during pregnancy as a result of seeing the baby in real-time.
  5. Families and fathers are more supportive after seeing the baby’s form and movement.
  6. The probability of obtaining a more accurate identification of foetal anomalies is higher in 4D scans.
  7. Additionally, it shares the benefits of 3D ultrasound, such as:
    • Assessment of foetal growth and well being
    • Placental localisation and assessment
    • Examining the foetal heartbeat


3D Scan

  • The only setback in 3D sonography in pregnancy is that it does not give us a real-time or live streaming of the baby’s movements.
  • 3D baby scan requires high-speed computing software.

4D Scan

  • Expensive machinery.
  • Intensive training is required to operate the machinery.

Although these scans are not a part of the standard medical procedure, it is always a pleasure to see your baby moving inside you. 3D and 4D scans are among the most sought-after scans requested by parents. It is magical to see your growing baby. If you want to undertake these scans during your pregnancy, consult your doctor and follow his advice.

Also Read: 

First Trimester Scans in Pregnancy
Anomaly Scan during Pregnancy
NT Scan in Pregnancy

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