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Cheaper alternative to make 3D ultrasound

A 3D ultrasound is super fun to make because you can see your baby in color and depth. A 3D ultrasound can sometimes be made at the midwife, but in most cases you have to go to a special clinic. Why?
Because the equipment with which the 3D ultrasound is made is extremely expensive. But here scientists from Erasmus MC and Delft University of Technology have found something so that hopefully soon one cheaper alternative to make 3D ultrasound is. And all by a simple cap.

2D or 3D Echo?

Your first ultrasound, between 8 to 12 weeks, is a 2D ultrasound. The images are black and white and you do not see any depth. The images are often not very clear either. During the 20-week ultrasound you also get a 2D ultrasound. If you want a 3D Echo then that is often seen as a 'pretecho' and this is not covered by your health insurance (at least not by the basic insurance).

A 3D echo is an echo in color and you can see depth. The images stand still, but you can see your baby better. You can even see the curves and shapes of, for example, the nose and little chin. If you look closely you may already be able to see who your baby looks like!

3D ultrasound how many weeks

A 3D echo is usually not standard, but you can request it yourself. This is possible from the 24 weeks. From the 24th week of your pregnancy, your baby has more fat on the body and then the images look better.

3D ultrasound equipment pretty expensive

Currently the equipment with which the 3D ultrasound is made is extremely expensive. As a result, many practices and hospitals can not afford it yet. In addition, these echoes in poorer countries have never been made at all. That is a shame because a 3D ultrasound is a good way to detect narrowing in the blood vessels that is the result of arteriosclerosis. 3D echoes can also be used to detect abnormalities in the development of your baby and tumors can be discovered and studied. The reason why the equipment is so ridiculously expensive is because thousands of sensors are needed to capture the echo signals and to convert them into 3D images.

Solution for a cheaper alternative for 3D echo

Scientists from Erasmus MC and Delft University of Technology have developed a simple plastic cap that can make 3D echoes much cheaper. In addition, the equipment with the cap is also portable and smaller. The plastic cap contains a complex pattern of holes. Through these holes, sound waves go in all directions and recurring echo signals form complicated patterns. A powerful computer can capture these echoes and calculate where they come from. In this way a beautiful 3D image is created from the maze of echo signals.

The cap does not cost a lot of money. The powerful computer that has to convert the echo signals is an investment. But these costs are still much lower than the costs of an advanced 3D ultrasound device.

After a number of adjustments have been made, the scientists expect that high-quality 3D images can be made in the foreseeable future with these small, portable and inexpensive ultrasound equipment. This alternative for 3D ultrasound is also a great advance for doctors in poor countries.