3D vs. 4D Ultrasound: What Is the Difference?

March 01 2021

Ultrasound technician viewing a 3D ultrasound image

When comparing 3D vs. 4D ultrasound, the main difference lies in how the image is shown on the screen. Both types of ultrasound work the same way. However, the end product is different.

As with all ultrasound technology, the ultrasound probe emits high-frequency sound waves into the body, where they bounce back as echoes. A computer processes these echoes as electrical signals to create a visual display that we can understand.

3D and 4D imaging options are more advanced than traditional 2D. While ultrasound is used in practically every healthcare specialty, 3D and 4D ultrasounds are often associated with pregnancy. Many expecting mothers like the idea of being able to see their fetus grow and develop in detail.

Of course, there are many other applications for this technology. All types of ultrasound have both pros and cons. In this article, we’ll compare 3D vs. 4D ultrasound. We’ll cover various applications and help you decide which equipment to invest in for your healthcare facility.

The Difference Between 3D and 4D Ultrasound

Both 3D and 4D ultrasounds are an improvement from 2D technology. The increased visual detail is key to diagnosing critical health conditions as early as possible.

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of each:

3D Ultrasound

3D ultrasound is used to produce 3-dimensional images. In terms of pregnancy, 3D ultrasound can help diagnose external issues like cleft lip or spine curvature. It is also a great tool for analyzing fetal heart structures.

This imaging type is also relevant to other areas of healthcare. 3D echocardiography, or 3DE, is used to track blood flow, the rate of expansions and contractions, and chamber volume. Interventional cardiology practices also use 3D ultrasound to evaluate structural heart disease.

4D Ultrasound

4D ultrasound is essentially 3D ultrasound in motion. This equipment enables the live streaming of 3D images in a video format. Currently, there is a high demand for 4D ultrasound by pregnant patients. These people are interested in 4D ultrasound so they can have keepsake videos of their forming child moving and even yawning.

The FDA warns against using ultrasound for nonmedical purposes. The long-term effects of these ultrasounds have not been studied. Ultrasound imaging is a medical procedure used to diagnose, treat, and monitor various health conditions. It is not intended for the production of keepsake images or videos.

The main application of 4D imaging in other healthcare specialties is to examine moving organs.

4D image of a fetus on the screen of an ultrasound machine

Choosing the Right Equipment for Your Practice

Now that you have a better understanding of the difference between 3D and 4D ultrasound, it’s up to you to decide which is best for your practice. While the decision will ultimately depend on your applications and patient types, you’ll also want to consider equipment price.

One of the differences in comparing 3D vs. 4D ultrasound is the price. The majority of 3D ultrasound machines range from $20,000 to $70,000. On the other hand, 4D machine prices typically fall in the upper end of this range or exceed it. For instance, the GE Voluson 730 Expert 4D machine starts at $75,000.

Ultrasound machines cover a vast range of prices because of the variety of equipment available. Both brand and size play a huge role, as well as features. A portable machine will cost much less than a large console system. Opting for refurbished equipment will also reduce the price substantially.

Whether you’re looking for 3D or 4D imaging equipment, UltrasoundQuotes has you covered. We partner with pre-screened dealers to provide a huge inventory of new and refurbished ultrasound equipment for sale from top manufacturers. We carry a variety of different types of ultrasound to serve a range of healthcare applications.

Plus, we offer free, transparent pricing on everything in our inventory. Get free quotes on equipment that fits your needs. Don’t waste time browsing dozens of websites. Compare 3D vs. 4D ultrasound equipment in one place with UltrasoundQuotes.

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