Baby’s first picture

LAURIUM – For parents who are expecting a child, one of the most exciting moments can be receiving that first photo of their child – the sonogram. But at Aspirus, they can take that photo and make it even better by using 3D/4D technology.

According to Aspirus Keweenaw Director of Diagnostic Services Gordie Rintala, 3D is a static and still picture that is taken from the 2D sonogram and then programmed by a computer system. 4D gives you the full image on the screen where you can see it live and moving.

“The 4D is really what we’re working on mostly. 3D/4D in itself has been around for a little while and has been slowly developing,” Rintala said.

So far the response from patients who have taken advantage of the new technology has been outstanding.

“They connect with that fetus that’s inside the womb,” Rintala said. “The way of connecting before was using a stethoscope and listening for a heartbeat. Some of the imaging that we did before, some could see and some couldn’t. With 3D/4D, they’re excited about it. They say, ‘that baby has your chin or nose.’ It’s more of a real image that they’re seeing so there’s a lot of excitement.”

Despite the advance in technology, there is no price increase for opting to receive a 3D/4D ultrasound.

“Our number one objective when someone comes in for an ultrasound is to make sure that we get the diagnostic information, to make sure that we don’t see abnormalities, we look to make sure this is a healthy baby. When it’s all done we put the 4D on. We also do this for the parents. It’s a matter of connecting with the baby. … At that point it’s free. It gives the parents a few minutes to connect with the baby.”

But getting an ultrasound isn’t the only way this technology can be used. For transesophageal studies, the cardiologist is able to look at the patient’s heart.

“They can see the valves and holes or lesions in the heart,” Rintala said. “You can also look at the liver if there’s a tumor or growth. The technology itself is really evolving.”

But Rintala believes they are still in the early stages of fully implementing this technology. Realizing its full potential will rely on the technology and software that’s being created for it.

“That’s what’s happening with the 3D technology. It’s making it easier. We’re using it in more and more ways.”