Our ultrasound examinations provide reassurance and detailed information regarding the actual state and condition of your pregnancy; in short a very clear view of your baby. This cornerstone of our practice also allows it to be a site for innovative development in the field; training and education for physicians, technologists and nurses. We offer only state of the art technology and have always had early access to new advances participating in application and development. We believe our background and this approach to practice have provided the basis for excellence in the field both for your benefit and for that of your baby.
Level 2 Ultrasounds
A Level 2 ultrasound is a comprehensive, detailed evaluation of fetal anatomy and development. It is a much more in-depth evaluation of the fetus than a standard or Level 1 ultrasound. The ultrasound examination is usually performed at about 20 weeks gestational age. An ultrasound evaluation performed prior to this time may be limited because structures may still be too small to accurately evaluate. A Level 2 ultrasound examination requires appropriately trained physicians and ultrasonographers as well as state of the art ultrasound equipment.
During a level 2 ultrasound, baby will be measured from crown to rump, around the middle, around the head — and that's just for starters. The four chambers of the heart will be viewed, as well as the kidneys, bladder, stomach, brain, spine and genitalia. A survey of the organs, including the umbilical cord, ensures that they are developing normally (or identifies any potential problems as soon as possible). The sonographer will also be looking at your amniotic fluid levels, the location of the placenta, and the fetal heart rate.
Common reasons for a Level 2 ultrasound include family history of birth defects, maternal medical problems associated with birth defects (poorly controlled diabetes, for example), exposure to medications associated with birth defects, advanced maternal age of 35 or older, abnormal screening results, and birth defects suspected from a Level 1 ultrasound.
The vast majority of patients who have a baby with a birth defect are considered low risk at the beginning of the pregnancy. If a baby does have a birth defect, usually there is nothing the mother did to cause it to happen. Also, there is usually nothing anyone could have done to prevent the birth defect. However, the detection of some birth defects (i.e., heart defects) at the time of the Level 2 can help with prenatal treatment or immediate treatment at delivery to prevent serious complications or an adverse outcome.
The detection rate for birth defects with a Level 2 ultrasound is around 70 - 80%, while the detection rate can be as low as 15 - 20% with a standard Level 1 ultrasound. While there is no ultrasound that can detect 100% of serious birth defects, most birth defects that are undetected with a Level 2 ultrasound usually are clinically less significant (such as a small hole in the heart which commonly closes on its own after birth).
If a birth defect is detected, you will meet with our team of healthcare providers to formulate a plan of care for your baby throughout the remainder of the pregnancy, at time of delivery, and into the newborn period. Prior to delivery, you will also have the opportunity to meet with the neonatologists and pediatric sub-specialists who may care for the baby after birth. This is done so you can obtain as much information as possible and be well informed on the care of the baby after it is born. We can also arrange a tour of UT Medical Center's special care nursery (level III nursery), which is equipped to care for even the most critical newborns.