Expectant mothers in the Lower Valley are now able to see their babies in the womb twist and turn, suck their thumbs or even smile.
The Swofford & Halma Clinic in Sunnyside recently purchased a 3D/4D ultrasound that can do some pretty amazing things.
"You can watch the cycle of life from six weeks to delivery," said Julie Schab, an RT who works part-time at Swofford & Halma Clinic in conjunction with Dr. Diana Smigaj and Cascade Women's Healthcare Associates in Yakima.
"The bonding experience the parents can have with this is indescribable."
The new ultrasound allows the parents to see the movement of their child in the womb. The 3D image displays a perfect picture of the baby inside. The 4D technology allows the viewer to see the baby move.
Schab said for the father, the image is the closest thing to know what it's like to have a baby move inside of them.
"We have gotten great feedback from patients," said Darla Westenberg, office manager at Swofford & Halma Clinic.
Swofford & Halma Clinic is the only clinic in the Lower Valley to offer this high-tech service. Patients not wanting to drive to Yakima or the Tri-Cities can now come to Swofford & Halma Clinic instead.
Westenberg said the staff at Swofford & Halma Clinic wants to make the health care of their patients the top priority, and with this machine they are doing just that.
With the new ultrasound Schab can use the machine to distinguish the tiniest structures and explore fetal images to detect abnormalities earlier than ever before.
If something is found Schab contacts Smigaj, who is board certified in obstetrics, gynecology and maternal fetal medicine.
Cascade Women's Healthcare Associates also works very closely with the University of Washington and is able to get recommendations from doctors there, as well.
Soon, the ultrasound machine will be set up so Smigaj can view from the clinic in Yakima what Schab is seeing in real time.
The machine also makes it easier to screen for Down Syndrome, also known as nuchal translucency screening. This helps determine the chance of having a baby with Down Syndrome.
Schab is the only one at Swofford & Halma Clinic licensed to perform nuchal translucency screenings. This is usually done between 10 1/2 to 13 1/2 weeks of pregnancy. The screening combines measurements from both a blood test and an ultrasound examination.
The screening involves measuring the amount of fluid accumulated under the skin at the back of the baby's neck. This fluid is often increased when a developing baby has Down Syndrome.
The ultrasound and the blood results are then combined with maternal factors, such as age and weight, to calculate the chance for Down Syndrome in the current pregnancy.
Another benefit to the new machine is the ability for dating. This allows the pregnancy to be followed and documented throughout. The diagnostic screening is also an advantage. All of the anatomy is looked at, which gives Schab, Smigaj and the doctors at Swofford & Halma Clinic the ability to make good clinical decisions.
Schab said patients usually can't believe it when they see the image of their baby. Having their family in the room with them makes it more special. Soon patients will be able to get a DVD of the ultrasound exam.
The machine has been a big hit with the doctors at Swofford & Halma Clinic.
"I'm very happy," said Ana Sofia Zelaya, an MD at the clinic. "It helps us give better care to the patients. We can follow them and if anything is wrong we can detect the problem."
She sees two very specific advantages to the new ultrasound machine. One, she said, is the accurate dating process. This allows for any interventions to be done more safely.
The second advantage she sees is the joy it brings to the expectant mother after seeing the unborn child move.
Dr. Harlan Halma is also happy to have the new ultrasound.
"It's a high quality machine and it's very convenient for the patient to have this top of the line piece of equipment right here.