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3-D and 4-D Ultrasounds Cost

How Much Do 3-D and 4-D Ultrasounds Cost?

average costSingle Session: $37-$200high costPackages Including DVDs and Images: $200-$289+
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3-D ultrasounds, which create three-dimensional still images, and 4-D ultrasounds, which create video images, typically are used during pregnancy, sometimes for medical purposes, but most often as keepsakes for the parents. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends against[1] getting any ultrasound for non-medical purposes.

Typical costs:

  • 3-D and 4-D ultrasounds typically are not covered by health insurance, even when performed for medical reasons. For example, Aetna[2] considers 3-D and 4-D ultrasounds experimental and investigational due to lack of evidence that they alter management or improve clinical outcomes over standard ultrasounds.
  • A 3-D and 4-D ultrasound typically costs from less than $50 to $250 or more, depending on the provider, length of session or number of sessions and extras provided. For example, A Baby Visit[3] in California offers packages ranging from $37 for a "Preview Package" with a five-minute ultrasound session to $289 for a "Baby Grandparents Package" that includes a 30-minute session with four copies of each DVD and CD of images, multiple sizes of photos, a photo album and a teddy bear with the baby's heartbeat. Stork Vision[4] , in Wisconsin, charges $130 for a 30-minute session and $165 for a 60-minute session and $225 for two sessions at different gestational ages; all packages include a DVD of the session, a CD with all images and black-and-white and color photos. Accuscan Health Imaging[5] in Utah charges $200 for a 15-to-20-minute session with a DVD, a CD of images, photos and an expectant mother gift bag.
Related articles: Ultrasound, Prenatal Care, Baby Delivery

What should be included:
  • The technologist asks the patient to lie down, rubs a clear gel onto the abdomen, then uses a hand-held device called a transducer that emits sound waves that are sent from multiple angles. A complex computer program then is used to turn the sound waves into 3-D still images of the fetus or 4-D video of the fetus. (Time is considered the fourth dimension in a 4-D ultrasound.)
  • Parents-to-be often seek 3-D and 4-D ultrasounds for sentimental reasons. However, 3-D and 4-D ultrasounds also are sometimes used by doctors in high-risk pregnancies to help detect fetal abnormalities in the face and limbs and to check function of a specific fetal organ, especially the heart. The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania Radiology Department[6] offers information on the use of these ultrasounds for medical purposes.
Additional costs:
  • Many providers of "keepsake ultrasounds" offer additional items or services at an added cost. For example, A Baby Visit in California offers a la carte options[7] including an additional CD for $10 and a memory book for as much as $25.
  • Some providers offer online specials or coupons for 3-D and 4-D ultrasound services. For example, Accuscan Health Imaging in Utah offers a special for the "Angel Baby Package[8] ," which includes 3-D color photos and a 4-D video, for $149 instead of $200. A Baby Visit[9] in California offers a 5% discount to members of the military, teachers, police and firefighters.
Shopping for 3-d and 4-d ultrasounds:
  • The American College of Radiology offers a locator by zip code[10] for facilities that are ACR-accredited in ultrasound procedures. It is important to make sure the facility uses trained ultrasound technologists certified by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS)[11] , an independent non-profit organization that sets professional standards in sonography. ARDMS has a tool[12] to verify the status of a provider.
  • The FDA, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine[13] all recommend against getting an ultrasound for non-medical purposes, due to safety concerns about excessive and unnecessary exposure of the fetus to ultrasounds. Proponents argue that 3-D and 4-D ultrasounds can improve bonding between the mother and unborn baby, and might encourage healthier habits during pregnancy.An expert at[14] recommends that patients consult with their own health care providers on this issue.
  • For a pregnant woman who does choose to get one, an elective 3-D and 4-D ultrasound is not intended to, and should not, replace a routine ultrasound ordered as part of standard prenatal care. Ultrasounds -- also called sonograms -- typically in 2-D, are often performed at 20 weeks to monitor fetal development and check for problems. A pregnant woman should be under the care of an obstetrician/gynecologist or other qualified prenatal care provider. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists[15] offers a doctor finder by state; make sure the doctor is certified by the American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology[16] .
Material on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. For medical decisions, always consult your physician for the right course for your infant or child.
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