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3D and 4D Ultrasounds: Seeing Babies Like a Bat

Though ultrasound is used as a diagnostic tool today, it was considered a therapy when it first appeared in medicine in the 1920s. Read on to learn how today's 3D and 4D ultrasounds work.

Ultrasound machines are complex pieces of equipment, but the basic principle is so simple a bat can use it. Send out high-pitched sound signals (so high-pitched humans can't hear them, in fact), and listen for them to bounce back. The time it takes for the sound to return tells you how close you are to another object, and sending dozens of these signals per second gives you a pretty good picture of the contours of the environment ahead of you and which bugs are juiciest. In the case of an ultrasound machine, these calculations typically map a 2D picture of a growing fetus in the womb. A 3D ultrasound takes this idea a step further, sending ultrasonic waves from a variety of angles around the body to provide a significantly more detailed picture. Adding the element of time results in a moving 3D image, often called a 4D ultrasound. Both 3D and 4D ultrasounds are elective procedures, most commonly used to show what a baby looks like and to identify its gender.

Though ultrasonic technology is used as a diagnostic tool today, it was considered a therapy when it first appeared in medicine in the 1920s, using much more intense ultrasonic energy to apply controlled heat to tissues deep within the body. However, in 1955, Professor Ian Donald of Glasgow University’s Department of Midwifery began to test its application to the diagnosis of tumors, creating a stir in the medical community when he identified a large but operable ovarian cyst in a patient who had been misdiagnosed with inoperable cancer of the stomach. In 1959 he discovered that the ultrasonic waves could provide images of fetuses as well, allowing doctors to study pregnancy at all stages, diagnose any complications, and help name the baby by seeing which celebrity it looks most like.

518 Hawkins Avenue
Lake Ronkonkoma,
NY
US

The two-wheeler wizards of Bike Discounters stock bicycles for all types of terrain from top manufacturers such as Schwinn, Redline, and Giant. They keep steeds streetwise with general cycle maintenance—including tire installations, gear adjustments, and wheel truing—as well as tune-ups and a shrine of Say No to Potholes bumper stickers. The shop also carries an extensive array of accessories, from Thule car carriers to Louis Garneau helmets and CamelBak hydration systems.

438 Lake Ave
Saint James,
NY
US

A specialty consignment boutique catering to style-conscious infants, kids, juniors, and ladies, Kiss It Goodbuy offers nearly-new brand-name apparel, jewelry, and a variety of accessories. Pockets become increasingly stylish when filled with a wallet made from recycled magazine pictures of Justin Bieber ($14), and kids' clothes from Abercrombie & Fitch, Ed Hardy, and Limited Too ($5–$20) make sure young bodies are safely clothed against the elements. Trendy costume jewelry ($8–$20) adds sparkle to a wrist, color to an ear, or twinkle to the eyes of a specially bred lap giraffe, effectively accessorizing an accessory. Designer jeans and dresses ($15–$24) come freshly laundered and preassembled, and numerous handbags ($25–$75, $175–$450 for higher-end brands) provide a multitude of different carrying options, from an orange-and-pink Vera Bradley ($24.50) to a multi-hearted Dooney & Bourke ($45). Because today's Groupon is good for sale items, shoppers can buy one deal and then use it to buy another deal—an act of double savings that instantly turns all of your clothes into money.

975 W Jericho Tpke
Smithtown,
NY
US