|Ultrasound Monitoring of Your Pregnancy|
We recommend that our patients have a series of ultrasound examinations during their pregnancies. The condition for which they are being treated involves the immune system. Although our patients may have different immune problems, they are all similar in at least one respect: the problem leads to abnormal blood flow from the mother to the placenta. This may adversely affect the developing pregnancy.
What is the blood flow problem? Technically, it is called a vasculitis; i.e., an inflammation of the blood vessels.
How does this vasculitis affect blood flow? Picture the following. Water is flowing from a water spigot through a hose. Gradually, the hose begins to thicken. As it thickens, the channel through which the water flows becomes narrower. As it gets narrower and narrower, it becomes more difficult for blood to flow and less water comes out the end of the hose unless the pressure of the water from the spigot is increased. In this analogy, the water represents your blood flowing to your pregnancy, and the hose represents the blood vessels in your uterus going to your placenta. The thickening of the blood vessels results from inflammation.
The way that we determine if inflammation is present, and thus the physiologic efficacy of the treatment, is through the ultrasounds we recommend. If an abnormal result is obtained, medical treatment may be altered to allow blood to flow more easily. Because it is such a critical period, we recommend ultrasound examinations every two weeks during the first trimester. Thereafter, ultrasound examinations ("scans") are performed monthly, unless there is a reason to perform them more frequently.
Subsequent to the first trimester examinations, we recommend different ultrasound tests during each scan in addition to the blood flow tests.