How Ultrasounds Have Changed Over the Years

Ultrasounds have a special role during pregnancy, as parents-to-be are able to "see" their baby for the first time and keep a photo memento they can hang on the refrigerator. This state-of-the-art technology is so common now, a pregnancy without one is almost unimaginable. But until relatively recent times, parents weren't able to glimpse their baby until the actual birth.

Dr. Thomas Hatchett and our top-notch team at Habersham OBGYN in Demorest, Georgia, offer a wide range of integrative health care services, whether a woman is in her teen years, beyond menopause, or anywhere in between. Along with our nurse-midwife Britteny Barron, Dr. Hatchett and our staff can also help you on your pregnancy journey as we combine the latest technology with personalized support.


Also known as a sonogram, an ultrasound is a very common and safe type of imaging. Unlike an X-ray that uses radiation, this kind of scan creates images by harnessing sound waves. Typically, a sonographer places a hand-held device known as a transducer against the skin. The ultrasound — i.e., sound at a frequency a person is not able to hear — moves through fluids and soft tissue but bounces back or echoes off surfaces that are denser. This is the way an image is created.

Ultrasounds can be useful in providing a variety of pieces of information during pregnancy, including confirming the pregnancy and location, if there are multiples, and the baby's gestational age. It can also be used to make sure the baby is growing at the proper rate as well as checking out the placenta and amniotic fluid and screening for birth defects. In addition, ultrasounds can determine the baby's position before delivery.

History of the ultrasound

Some of the ideas involved in the ultrasound have been around for centuries, beginning with a physiologist who studied how bats knew the location of objects by reflected sound in the late 1700s. Over the years, various researchers and doctors built upon each others' findings until the 1940s when several doctors used 2-dimensional ultrasound equipment to detect tumors and gallstones.

The ultrasound entered into the obstetrics and gynecology field in the 1950s when Dr. Ian Donald and his colleagues used it to obtain the first ultrasound images of a fetus, as well as gynecological masses, as reported in a seminal paper in 1958.

By the 1960s and into the 1970s, ultrasound images could show detailed fetal anatomy and also became able to determine the baby's measurements as well as abnormalities.

Over the following decades, the equipment has undergone a number of upgrades that, along with new technologies, have provided a vast improvement in image quality. In addition, the machines have become smaller physically, generate less heat, and are more power efficient, which has allowed them to become even more widely available.

While there is no doubt ultrasounds have improved medical care, having a skilled, caring health team by your side is crucial as you navigate pregnancy, labor, delivery, and the post-partum period. To make an appointment with us, book online or call our office at 706-229-4718 today. 

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