Babies star in movie – before being born!

See how the latest medical technology gives expectant mothers (and family members) more than a sneak-peak at their soon-to-arrive new stars …

Jessica Fantroy shares with us her first experience of seeing her newest baby girl – weeks before she’s to be born. Rebecca Cunningham is operating the Phillips 4-D Ultrasound, as Chief Sonographer Tina Fery looks on.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Medical ultrasound imaging has been around for years. But, the blurry, grainy image – useful to medical experts – usually just looks like a blob on the screen of an electronic device.

But this week, thanks to Adventist Medical Center, we were invited to preview the miracle of life as East County resident, Jessica Fantroy, got her first glimpse of the live-action image of her third child, a soon-to-be born baby girl.

“This is my first time doing this,” Fantroy said as she saw a realistic, three-dimensional image of her unborn baby.  “I always wanted to see what the baby looks like when it’s still inside me. It’s so clear. This is really nice.”

As sonographer Rebecca Cunningham moved the probe around the expecting mom’s tummy, we saw different views of the unborn infant as it stretched, curled up, and at one point, seemed to smile – long before its early April birth date. “This gives us a three-dimensional image,” commented Cunningham; “the ‘fourth dimension’ is motion over time.”

Vast improvement in imaging
“When I first started doing ultrasounds ten years ago,” added the ultrasound technician, “the two- dimensional images were really poor. This new technology is simply amazing. You can look at an organ – or in this case, Jessica’s baby – from many different perspectives.”

Cunningham pointed at the large, high-resolution color screen. “You can clearly see the umbilical cord going across the baby’s face.”

“Look, she’s sucking on the cord!” Fantroy exclaimed.

Unborn movie star
Cunningham pressed a button, and the machine – a Phillips IU-22 4-D Ultrasound – took digital photos and movie clips which can even be burned to a CD for the patient to take home and share.

“Grandma is waiting at home,” Fantroy told us. “She can’t wait to see these pictures. It’ll be fun to show everybody.”

With a stretch and a yawn, Baby Fantroy stars in her first movie.

Pictures promote bonding
We asked the clinic’s Chief Sonographer, Tina Fery, about the medical applications for this new technology.

“Moms always could feel the baby moving all the time,” Fery replied. “This now gives dads, and the family’s children, the opportunity see the baby as clearly as if they were looking at it in a bassinette. They’re able to connect, and bond, with the baby on a whole different level.”

Fantroy agreed, “Oh yeah. I can so clearly see my move. I can feel her move, and it’s really fun and interesting to see here in me.”

A medical benefit, Fery pointed out, is that practitioners can now clearly see the orientation of the baby. If it’s a problem pregnancy, they can better view abnormalities that will need medical attention when the baby is born.

Technologists say new moms love the new 4-D ultrasound technology.

A medical procedure
Although ultrasound imaging is not an invasive process, it is still a medical procedure, Ferys pointed out. “In our case, when a physician orders an ultrasound imaging session, the patient gets the benefit of this new technology. It doesn’t cost any more than we used to charge for a 2-D ultrasound.”

Currently, both Adventist Medical Center and Gresham Imaging Center are offering “4D ultrasound imaging”.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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