4D Ultrasound: What is it? Differences, Recommendations, Costs and Indications

It is a painless and non-invasive procedure.

However, since you may need to have a full bladder if you are in the early stages of your pregnancy, it can be a bit uncomfortable.

All types of ultrasound are medical procedures known as a scan. This involves high-frequency sound waves transmitted through the body and collected on a screen.

During pregnancy, a device known as a transducer is used to move across the mother’s abdomen, sending sound waves through her abdomen and her uterus. These sound waves bounce off the baby in the form of echoes.

A computer collects the echo messages and translates them onto a screen. As the baby moves and kicks, the images can be seen on the ultrasound screen. These sound waves are very high in pitch and intensity and cannot be heard by the human ear.

What is the difference between a 3D and 4D ultrasound?

4D or 4-dimensional scans are based on 3D scanning technology. The extra dimension is time, so effectively, 4D ultrasounds move your baby’s images in real-time.

As your baby kicks, moves, frowns, grimaces, sucks his thumb, opens his eyes, and moves his lips, you will be able to see these movements on the scanner as they are happening.


The technology associated with 4D ultrasounds makes them more expensive, and they are generally not offered as part of a routine obstetric service. If parents choose to have a 4D ultrasound, they will have to pay for this procedure themselves.

Alternatively, some private health insurance companies may provide reimbursement. Check with your provider.

3D ultrasounds are also known as elective prenatal ultrasounds. They are not designed to replace the standard 2D procedure, a common obstetric practice.

Instead, they offer a more enhanced “bonding” experience with the unborn baby and are prompted by parents choosing to have them performed rather than as a medical necessity.

Some parents are very interested in seeing how their baby is growing and developing, and for this reason, another name for 4D ultrasound is a “lifestyle” scan.


3D and 4D ultrasounds are not designed to replace a standard obstetric ultrasound.

Many companies will not perform a 3D or 4D ultrasound unless a 2D medical diagnostic ultrasound has been done first. This is to rule out abnormalities for both the mother and her baby.

Mothers also need to contact a health care provider during pregnancy before having a 3D or 4D ultrasound.

How much will a 4D ultrasound cost?

If you go to a medically managed ultrasound clinic, you will be able to make a Medicare claim on at least a portion of the fee.

But if you go to a clinic that does not provide medical tests, for example, those that are not intended to be “diagnostic” and are instead “entertaining,” then you will have to pay all costs, and you will not be able to get reimbursement.

Ask questions about the training and experience of the personnel performing the scan.

Because technology has expanded and 3D / 4D scans are available, there is a lot of competition in the market. Different clinics claim to provide superior and more enhanced images, and their advertisements can be beautiful.

At non-diagnostic clinics, the packages cost around $ 100 to $ 200, depending on the level of service you want. You can get a DVD with or without the music of your choice, picture prints, and a CD of the pictures.

Some practices have special discounted prices when couples make appointments for more than one 4D ultrasound session.

Ideally, these are a few months apart. For couples who want to measure their baby’s individual growth and development, these 4D ultrasounds can be fascinating.

When should you have your 4D ultrasound?

There is some discrepancy between the clinics around when to perform a 3D and 4D ultrasound. Many claim that the optimal time is between 27 and 32 weeks of gestation, while other states are between 26 and 30 weeks.

A three-week “window” will still provide a good viewing alternative on either side of these time frames.

Gender-determination scans can be performed starting at 19-24 weeks’ gestation.

However, at this early stage, the baby does not have enough fat to “fill in” his facial features, so the quality of the scan and the images you will see will not be as clear as they will be later.