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Difference Between 3D Ultrasound and 4D Ultrasound

3D Ultrasound vs 4D Ultrasound

3D and 4D ultrasounds, just like 2D ultrasound, can be used to view internal organs or other parts inside the body. But, it is mostly used to take at a look at a baby inside the womb. The main difference between the two is the addition of the 4th dimension, which is time. A 3D ultrasound produces a 3D image of the baby that gives a more detailed and realistic view of the baby without any motion. With 4D ultrasound, instead of a 3D picture, you get a real-time 3D image of the baby.

The 3D image is achieved by compositing multiple 2D images, taken at different angles, to create a 3D model of the baby. Just like the relationship of a picture to a movie, a 4D ultrasound takes these 3D images at a very fast rate and combines them to create the illusion of motion. For most cases, a 2D ultrasound is enough to serve the purpose of routine check-up but the popularity of 3D and 4D ultrasound stems from parents wanting to have ‘keepsakes’ of their unborn child.

As both 3D and 4D ultrasound are both not covered by healthcare insurance, it is important to know that 4D ultrasound is more expensive than 3D ultrasound. It is not just the cost price of new equipment but it is also the fact that more processing power is needed in order to quickly churn out those images and produce a real-time video.

Lastly, 4D ultrasound may cause additional risk to the unborn child than 3D ultrasound. The risk is not due to the ultrasound itself as there is no difference between 3D and 4D ultrasound. The risk comes from prolonged exposure due to parents wanting to get a better view of the baby, a longer video, or even waiting for the baby to move just to catch in on video. The popularity of 4D ultrasound has also spurred the proliferation of clinics that offer this service for no medical reason. Inexperienced or insufficient training, with regards to technicians, is also one risk factor. To reduce or eliminate these risks, always make sure that the person who is doing the ultrasound is medically trained and do not prolong the ultrasound longer than what is necessary.


1. 3D ultrasound takes a 3 dimensional image while a 4D image takes a 3D video
2. 4D ultrasound is more expensive than 3D ultrasound
3. 4D ultrasound may be riskier than 3D ultrasound

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