Non-medical ultrasound

What is a non-medical ultrasound?

Ultrasound is a highly valuable clinical tool that can be very useful in ensuring fetal health. However, the wide availability of ultrasound equipment has led to the use of ultrasound for entertainment purposes. Although there is no definitive evidence that ultrasound causes harm, it still involves exposing the fetus to targeted energy. Some animal studies have shown subtle effects of ultrasound on brain development. Also, the operators of the equipment are not trained to recognize fetal and placental abnormalities.

Is non-medical ultrasound recommended?

The Canadian Association of Radiologists, The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, Health Canada, the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S., all recommend against the use of ultrasound to take pictures of a fetus for non-medical reasons. This includes the use of ultrasound to learn the sex of the fetus, creating ‘keepsake’ videos, or for commercial purposes. These agencies, and many other professional medical associations recommend that ultrasound be used only by qualified health professionals and that energy exposure be limited to the minimum that is medically necessary. When non-medical fetal ultrasound is performed, the maintenance of technical safeguards, operator training, qualifications, expertise, and standards for infection control are no longer ensured. The fetus should not be exposed to ultrasound for commercial or entertainment purposes, and it could be considered unethical to perform these scans.

The SOGC strongly opposes the non-medical use of fetal ultrasound and encourages the government to find appropriate means to deal with this public health issue.