In recent years, 3 dimensional (3D) and 4 dimensional (4D) ultrasounds have become increasingly popular and readily available. With 3D ultrasound, a series of thin 2D slices is digitally reconstructed to give more life-like images. With 4D ultrasound, the added dimension is time, so that the 3D images appear to be moving in real time. The 3D/4D image usually appears a golden colour on the ultrasound screen, as this colour is easy for patients to look at and highlights features on the baby.
3D/4D ultrasound uses the same ultrasound beams as the conventional 2D ultrasound, with extra processing performed by the ultrasound machine computer. 3D/4D ultrasound is just as safe as conventional 2D scanning, with no evidence that it harms you or your baby.
There is some diagnostic role for 3D/4D ultrasound in obstetrics, although this is currently limited to a few particular conditions, for example, parents may better understand an abnormality like cleft lip when they see their baby in a 3D image, format the image appears more life-like. Usually such conditions are first assessed in detail with the conventional 2D ultrasound. This is one reason why it is important to have your 3D/4D images as part of an overall examination of your baby, performed by trained sonographers and doctors, who will recognise any problems with your baby.