Ultrasounds, 3D and 4D Baby Scans

ROC Clinic can support you during your whole pregnancy through consultations with our doctors and ultrasound scans performed by our highly skilled sonographer.

Whether you wish to confirm an early pregnancy, you wish to be reassured about the progress of the pregnancy, or you just want to have a dating scan or a gender scan, we will be able to help.

Services available include:

  • Follicle tracking scans for IVF patients
  • Early Pregnancy/ Dating Scans
  • Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT Harmony Test)
  • Anomaly Scans
  • Reassurance Scans
  • Fetal Growth, Wellbeing and Sex Determination Scans
  • Cervical Scans

ROC Private Clinic works closely with a team of obstetricians so we are able to recommend the right consultant for you if you wish to undertake your care and delivery privately.

In addition, our GPs are highly experienced in dealing with any concerns a pregnant woman may have and are available to consult with you when needed.

In London – you will be required to consult one of our doctors before being referred for a scan.

In Aberdeen – you may access the service without a referral from a doctor. Scans are available Monday to Saturday, with early and late evening appointments.

We understand this can be an exciting but also nerve-wracking time for patients, especially first-time parents, and you may have many questions. On this page, we endeavor to answer all the most commonly asked questions and hope this information is helpful to you.

If you would like to make an appointment or discuss anything with our friendly staff, please call us on 01224 515 254 and we will be very happy to help.

Baby Scans

No, you do not need a referral from a doctor to come in for a pregnancy ultrasound. You can call us and make an appointment at any time during your pregnancy. You will be asked to complete a ‘Self-referral’ form when you arrive at the clinic. If you have a GP, midwife or specialist with whom you would like the ultrasound results shared, we can email them a report.
There are many benefits to getting an ultrasound during your pregnancy. First and foremost, we can check to see how many babies you have and if they are alive by monitoring their heart beat. It is important to know the location of the baby and if there is anything in your pelvis that may impact on the pregnancy. If you are experiencing pain or bleeding, we can look for causes of these and provide reassurance if everything appears normal.
Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) is a way of investigating the risk of your baby having an abnormality. These tests do not definitively diagnose all chromosomal abnormalities but rather place you in a category of high or low risk for various conditions. NIPT requires you to simply have an ultrasound and a blood test so there is no direct risk to the baby as there is with invasive procedures. If you are low risk no further action is required and your prenatal care continues in the normal fashion. If you are high risk your doctor will counsel you in further testing options that may be done to investigate what is happening with your baby. We offer the non-invasive Harmony Test.
Both the Nuchal Translucency and Harmony Test are non-invasive prenatal tests. Information obtained from your ultrasound scan and blood test are used to calculate a risk factor for your baby having a chromosomal abnormality. They do not diagnose abnormalities. In the Nuchal Translucency Test, the sonographer will measure the length of the baby from the top of its head to the bottom of its bottom (the crown-rump length or CRL) as well as the thickness of the fluid in the skin at the back of the neck (the nuchal translucency). These measurements along with levels of certain hormones in your blood test results and information about you, such as your age, weight, ethnic background and more, will be entered into a computer program used to calculate your risk factor for an abnormal pregnancy. This test is performed between 11-14 weeks. We do not offer Nuchal Translucency Testing. The Harmony Test is similar but doesn’t focus too much on the nuchal translucency itself. The sonographer will measure the CRL and assess the baby’s anatomy including the skin at the back of the neck. The estimated gestational age based on measurements will be used along with your blood test to calculate your risk factor. Instead of looking at hormone levels, the technicians who analyse your blood will be looking at your baby’s DNA products. This test can be done between 10-34 weeks. We offer the Harmony Test at ROC Private Clinic because it is found to be more accurate than the Nuchal Translucency test. You can read more about it here.
No, you do not have to have the NIPT but this doesn’t mean you can’t have ultrasounds. Some people choose not to get genetic testing done but still have routine ultrasounds to monitor the baby’s growth and wellbeing.
We understand the first few weeks of your pregnancy can either be very exciting or a time of great anxiety and you want an ultrasound as soon as possible to see your baby. However, if you’re not experiencing any problems like significant pain or bleeding, it is best to wait until at least 6 weeks after the first day of your last menstrual period to book an ultrasound appointment. Even if everything is developing in a normal fashion, the embryo may not be visible before 6 weeks. Or, if an embryo is visible but there is no foetal heart motion seen, this could simply be because the heart hasn’t started yet and not a sign of any abnormality. A foetal heart doesn’t start beating until 5 ½ weeks. If you have a very early scan and the findings are equivocal, a repeat ultrasound and blood tests will be needed to confirm the state of your pregnancy. To save yourself time, money and any anxiety caused by non-specific findings, we feel it is best to wait until after 6 weeks to have a scan. If you can bear to wait, a great time to come is around 8 weeks when everything should be seen quite clearly. However, if you have significant pain or bleeding, please see your doctor and make an appointment for an ultrasound when you are experiencing those symptoms.
Sound energy travels really well through liquid which is why we can easily see structures that are surrounded by it – like your baby in amniotic fluid. Sound doesn’t travel so well through air (gas) which is why ultrasound isn’t a great test to get done when looking at bowel or lungs. Your uterus lies behind your bladder but if your bladder is empty, bowel will take up that area in your pelvis and block the soundwaves from reaching your uterus thereby limiting what the sonographer can see. Everyone has gas in their bowel – it’s normal and there’s nothing you can do to make ultrasound travel through bowel any better. Luckily, this problem can be overcome by filling your bladder! When your bladder is full, it pushes the bowel out to the sides of your pelvis thus allowing soundwaves to travel through the fluid in there (urine) and reach your uterus. We can then gather information about your pelvic organs and baby.We are very aware this requirement can make your ultrasound experience uncomfortable but promise it’s for a good reason. If you feel you are ‘ready to burst’, by all means, go to the bathroom and release some urine. We don’t want you to be distressed by being overfull. Just do your best to keep some fluid in there so we can get the best images possible.
An internal ultrasound may be necessary for the sonographer to perform in order to obtain all the relevant information regarding your pregnancy. This is a very common and safe test done at all stages of pregnancy. We believe this is the best test to perform in some situations but you have the right to decline an internal exam and we will document all that we can externally. If you would feel more comfortable with a chaperone in the room during the test, we can provide one here. Alternatively, you are welcome to bring a partner, family member or friend to the exam. If an internal scan is deemed necessary, the sonographer will direct you to the bathroom where you can empty your bladder completely. You will then return to the ultrasound room and be given privacy to prepare for the scan. You will need to remove any clothes from the waist down, lie on the bed just as you had for the first part of the test, and cover yourself with a sheet provided. The sonographer will then return to the room. She will place a firm wedge under your hips to elevate your pelvis. The ultrasound probe used for the internal scan is long and thin and will be placed in the vagina. Please inform the sonographer if you are allergic to latex as the probe will be covered with a latex cover. In the event a patient has an allergy an alternative cover will be used. The sonographer will offer you the choice of inserting the probe yourself or allowing her to insert it for you. It is generally easier if the sonographer does this. The probe does not need to interfere with the cervix so this test is generally not painful. Rest assured, it is not like a pap smear! Please inform the sonographer if you feel pain during the scan and know that you are able to stop the examination at any point by asking the sonographer to stop. The internal scan will only take a few minutes. Once the probe is inserted, the sonographer will move it from side-to-side and up-and-down to examine all the relevant anatomy. The internal probe gets closer to what we need to see than the external probe, therefore the resolution and quality of the image is generally much better internally than externally. There are a few exceptions to this rule but they are not common. Reasons you may need this scan during your pregnancy include: Measuring the length and the heartbeat of a very small embryo, looking for a cause of bleeding, assessing the state of your cervix, looking for an ectopic pregnancy, assessing ovaries, looking for fluid in your pelvis. The only time this test is not recommended during pregnancy is if you have a premature rupture of membranes.
We appreciate this is an exciting time and you may wish to share it with friends and family. Seeing your baby and hearing its heartbeat is a wonderful experience. However, we wish to remind you that having an ultrasound is actually a medical examination. The sonographer has a very important job to do and needs to be able to concentrate and communicate with you in a quiet space. Occasionally we need to perform an internal ultrasound or deliver distressing news and discussing this is made more difficult by having an audience present. Please be mindful of this and only bring your partner or someone else who is close to you to your scan. If you have young children, if possible please try and bring someone with you to mind them while you’re being scanned. Little ones can get quite distressed in a dark ultrasound room while their mother is on the bed and that’s not fun for anyone.
No, you cannot take photos or videos during the ultrasound examination. Please be mindful this is a medical test and not a photo opportunity. You will be given all the images of your ultrasound at the end of the scan.
2-dimensional (2D) diagnostic ultrasound examinations have been used in medicine for over 50 years and research has deemed it to be a safe imaging modality during pregnancy when used responsibly. Qualified medical sonographers abide by the ALARA principle which stands for As Low As Reasonably Achievable. This means we use as low a dose of ultrasound as possible to achieve the desired result. ‘The desired result’ being visualising the appropriate structures at different stages of pregnancy. Ultrasound is a form of energy that we are sending into the body and much of this energy is absorbed by the body’s tissues and converted into heat. Therefore, there is a risk of heating up cells in the embryo or foetus and potentially causing harm. The risk of harm is weighed against the benefit to be gained by having a scan and the benefits of diagnostic ultrasound are immense. Some women need very regular scans to monitor high risk pregnancies and no negative consequences of such scans have been documented. 3D and 4D ultrasound is a relatively new form of scanning and hasn’t been researched to the same extent as 2D ultrasound. The energy involved in 3D and 4D scanning is much higher than that for traditional 2D ultrasound and therefore carries a higher potential for causing harm. There are still great benefits to be gained by using 3D ultrasound but it must be utilised responsibly. You can read more about 3D/4D ultrasound here. Ultrasound, when used responsibly by qualified medical professionals, is safe for you and your baby. There is no radiation involved in ultrasound.
The typical ultrasound you are probably familiar with is the 2-dimensional (2D) black, white and grey image. This is the kind of ultrasound that has been used for decades for all diagnostic scans and has been proven to be safe. 3 and 4-dimensional ultrasound (3D/4D) is relatively new technology. ‘3D’ means you see an image that looks three-dimensional. ‘4D’ means you see the baby moving in 3D. Why isn’t the whole scan done in 4D? 3D and 4D imaging is not used as the primary method for diagnosing problems in a pregnancy. The best way to see your baby’s anatomy and to measure all the relevant structures is with traditional grey-scale imaging. In fact, 3D and 4D imaging has a limited role when it comes to medically necessary scans. If your baby has a facial, spine or limb deformity, documenting it in 3D can be a great way for specialists such as your obstetrician or neonatal surgeon to devise a plan of action for your baby before it is born. It can also help you come to terms with how your baby will look once it’s born. In the case of normal pregnancies, 3D and 4D ultrasound is not necessary. While, it may seem fun to see the baby in this way, there are risks involved with ultrasound. For this reason, as part of your Anomaly or Reassurance scans after 18 weeks, our sonographer will spend a short time scanning in 3D/4D to look at the baby’s face if you wish. As responsible medical professionals, we do not perform ‘keepsake’ or ‘souvenir’ ultrasounds that are purely 3D/4D scans with no medical purpose.
Here at ROC, we follow guidelines from ultrasound authorities to ensure we practice in a safe and responsible way. According to the British Medical Ultrasound Society’s position statement on Souvenir Scanning, ‘Very little information is currently available regarding possible subtle biological effects of diagnostic levels of ultrasound on the developing human embryo or fetus, and the possibility of developmental effects in the brain cannot be ruled out. … Ultrasound scans should not be performed solely for producing souvenir images or recordings of a fetus or embryo’. In addition to this, the World Federation for Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology states:
  • The WFUMB disapproves of the use of ultrasound for the sole purpose of providing keepsake or souvenir images of the fetus.
  • Ultrasound imaging for non-medical reasons is not recommended unless carried out for education, training or demonstration purposes.
  • In the absence of supporting evidence of safety, caution should be used to minimize ultrasound exposure to the fetus.
  • The use of ultrasound to provide keepsake images or videos of the fetus may be acceptable if it is undertaken as part of a clinical diagnostic ultrasound examination, provided that it does not increase exposure to the fetus.
  • The use of ultrasound without medical indication to determine the fetal gender is inappropriate, and contrary to responsible medical practice.
  • Live scanning of pregnant models for equipment exhibitions at ultrasound congresses is considered a non-medical practice that should be prohibited since it provides no medical benefit, and risks to the embryo or fetus cannot be excluded.
  • Ultrasonography is a medical procedure that should only be carried out in the clinical setting where there is a medical indication and when carried out under the supervision of a physician or an appropriately trained expert in diagnostic ultrasound.
  • When using ultrasound for non-medical reasons the ultrasound equipment display should be used to ensure that TI < 0.7 and MI < 0.3.
If you would like to find out the gender of your baby, more often than not this can be confidently seen from 18 weeks onwards. However, if you wish to keep the gender a surprise, the sonographer will not document the baby’s gender and will not tell you what they see. Seeing the gender with an untrained eye is not that easy so don’t worry about accidently seeing it and ruining your surprise.
When you attend an ultrasound appointment the sonographer will ask you to lie down on the scanning bed and expose your abdomen. There is a lot of gel involved in ultrasound so don’t be surprised when your abdomen is covered in it. The sonographer will run a transducer over your belly to obtain images of your pelvic anatomy and your baby. The scan shouldn’t be painful at all but if you have concerns, please tell your sonographer. If your bladder isn’t full, the sonographer may ask you to drink water to help fill it up. If it’s over-full, you may be asked to go to the bathroom and empty a bit – not as easy as it sounds but just do your best! You may also be asked to roll onto your left or right side or even stand up and jump around a bit to help get the baby to move into a more accessible position. You may need an internal ultrasound – if you haven’t had one before, you can read about it here. After the scan, you will be given an image of your baby as well as a CD with all your images saved as jpgs. A report will be emailed to you, and your referring doctor if applicable, later in the day.
Modern ultrasound machines are absolutely amazing. There are so many things we can see at various stages of pregnancy. The structures seen will depend on the age of your baby but generally the sonographer will assess the brain, facial structures, spine, heart and chest, major blood vessels, the abdomen and pelvis including digestive and renal tracts, the baby’s limbs as well as its umbilical cord, amniotic fluid and placenta. Your baby will be measured and checked to see it is growing and moving according to its dates. Your anatomy will also always be scanned. The sonographer will check your uterus, cervix, ovaries and pelvis.
If the sonographer discovers something is amiss with your pregnancy, she will inform you at the end of your scan. Depending on what the problem is, your doctor may be contacted to discuss the finding and organise a plan of action for you. If you don’t have a regular doctor, you may consult with our onsite clinician after your ultrasound. You may be referred to an obstetrician or a tertiary referral centre for more detailed ultrasounds. Whatever the problem is, we will support and guide you to ensure you receive the best care.
No, unfortunately not all abnormalities are seen on ultrasound. Some things may not be detectable, some may be obscured from clear view due to the position of the baby, and some may not be seen due to increased maternal body habitus (an overweight patient). Sonographers that perform obstetric ultrasound have studied extensively and are highly trained but sadly, it is possible that a few abnormalities are missed due to human error.
At ROC Private Clinic Aberdeen, we offer ultrasounds up to 6 days a week. We have some early morning or evening spots as well as alternating Saturdays. Please call our friendly reception staff on 01224 515 254 to find a time that’s convenient for you.

Meet our experts

Ingrid Yuile

  • Qualifications: BAppSc (Exercise and Sport Science), GDMU
  • Location(s): Aberdeen - ROC Private Clinic
  • Clinical Interest(s): Diagnostic Medical Ultrasound: General, Small Parts, Musculoskeletal, Obstetrics, Gynaecology, Vascular.
  • BIO:

    Ingrid Yuile is an Australian Accredited Medical Sonographer and has moved all the way from her hometown, Sydney, to join our team in Aberdeen. With nearly 10 years of experience across all disciplines, Ingrid's skill as a general sonographer is a fantastic addition to our medical practice.

Request an appointment