What are the three dimensions? What is the fourth one?
When we say three dimensions we mean length, width and height (depth), and that is what forms a holograph. The fourth dimension is time, which gives life for the three dimensions.
With three dimensional ultrasound, the doctor needs effort in rotating the pictures to take the third dimension which takes time, but the fourth dimensional ultrasound gives the third dimension at the exact time when needed. For that reason, it is called, “live three dimensional ultrasound.”
This device can take photos in three different ways:
1 - Surface Imaging:
When taking photos of the fetus, with this process, it shows the body surface without penetrating the internal organs. With this, the treating physician can check on fetal wellbeing and check for multiple potential anomalies in the body, such as a cleft lip. It can also give a close and clear photo of the features of the fetus. These can be clear, just like photographic photos, and it can diagnose external organ anomalies like ear, nose, hand, foot issues. It can also help in accurate diagnosis of Down syndrome. As identifying the surface can be done by this method, it can differentiate malignant from benign tumors as well.
2- Penetrating tissues:
This is like the two dimensional ultrasound. It shows the integrity of internal fetal organs like the heart, kidneys, liver, stomach and the rest of the internal organs in three dimensions. It can show accurate size, and irregular shape.
3- Transparent imaging:
This gives photos of the skeleton of the fetus, just like X-ray pictures. Any anomalies of the skeleton will be obvious in addition to being able to observe jaw development.
The breast can be examined also which can show obvious tubers in addition to the Doppler which shows blood flow and its direction. We can study heart function for the patient or the fetus inside the uterus or study blood circulation in the tissues, in general. It can also be used in the diagnosis of cancerous tumors, breast masses and unknown masses in the human body.
These previously mentioned ways provide the four dimensioned scan advantages like:
1 - Enables the treating physician to have general comprehensive stereoscopic images which helps in accurate diagnosis and following live movements inside the human body in its three dimensions, and it plays a major role in taking biopsies or inserting catheters inside the body.
2 - The possibility of storing photos through the computer and studying their sections later. This has saved much time in examination and makes a second opinion very easy, if the treating physician needs to consult another physician or if he needs to study sections in more detail.
3 - The accurate diagnoses that can be achieved by these devices has made diagnosis easier and it minimizes the associated psychological stress on the patient as well as the effort and financial cost by minimizing assumptions and contradictions.
4 - Accurate measurement for internal organs if they have an irregular shapes.
All these advantages have forced the world to push and rush development, and to make scientific revolutions in two dimensional ultrasound. It can achieve good results in diagnosis, but it needs this kind of revolution to give it the best results and finest details.