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3D / 4D ultrasound banned from 2021 - reasons and consequences

As of 2021, 3D and 4D ultrasound will be banned for pregnant women for non-medical reasons. This news not only shook the medical technology market at the beginning of the year, but also parents-to-be.

Since the beginning of 2021, they no longer have the opportunity to view their unborn baby on a 3D ultrasound recording or on what is known as 'baby TV', i.e. in a 4D live video.

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3D / 4D ultrasound ban from 2021: an overview of the reasons

The reason for the ban on 3D and 4D ultrasound during pregnancy is the new radiation protection ordinance, which came into force at the beginning of 2019. From January 1, 2021, this prohibits 3D and 4D ultrasound examinations without medical necessity.

Even after many years of studies and intensive research work in the field of sonography, the risks and dangers of an ultrasound examination are not known today. Nevertheless, the use of ultrasound devices without medical relevance poses a potential risk. This shows a particular problem: the baby market is booming and medical technology cannot only be acquired by a trained doctor.

As a result, the 3D / 4D ultrasound examination is now also carried out by non-medical professionals. Non-medical companies that offer 3D and 4D sonography for unborn babies have also established themselves on the free health market.

How dangerous is 3D / 4D ultrasound in unborn babies?

In general, the 3D and 4D ultrasound examination, like the normal ultrasound examination, is also harmless. Nevertheless, experts warn against performing 3D and 4D sonography without medical necessity. Because the intensity of the 3D ultrasound is significantly higher than that of conventional sonography thanks to the improved imaging.

Experts warn against excessive use of ultrasound in unborn babies without a diagnostic need for another reason. The ambiguous legal situation meant that medical ultrasound devices with 3D and 4D functions were used by users without medical training for the so-called 'baby cinema'.

The danger of a 3D / 4D ultrasound examination is therefore not only due to the medical ultrasound itself, but above all to the amateur use of medical technology by third parties who want to commercialize the 3D and 4D ultrasound and make a profit from it.

Reasons for an ultrasound examination during pregnancy

The main purpose of the ultrasound examination during pregnancy is to determine whether the embryo is developing normally or whether there are any abnormalities. For this reason, ultrasound is part of the basic care during pregnancy internationally. In Germany, the three basic ultrasound examinations are billed by the health insurance company.

However, women have more ultrasound examinations during pregnancy than the maternity guidelines allow. According to the German Society for Ultrasound in Medicine (DEGUM), there is a reason for this: for example, heart defects in unborn babies are often discovered during pregnancy through an ultrasound examination.

3D / 4D ultrasound ban from 2021: consequences for doctors

It is surprising that, as things stand today, only a few gynecologists are aware of the 3D and 4D ultrasound ban from 2021. Especially with 3D and 4D ultrasound for gynecology and obstetrics, the ban, which will come into force on January 1st, 2021, means major changes.

Every gynecological practice that has offered the 3D ultrasound examination, for example, now has to do without the additional source of income for the most part: Because the 3D and 4D ultrasound has no medical relevance in pregnancy and thus represents an individual health service (IGeL) the 3D and 4D ultrasound examinations are usually not covered by the health insurance. However, since there are no fixed criteria for medical necessity, this decision is up to the doctor. So there could be exceptions if the doctor classifies the 3D and 4D ultrasound examinations as medically relevant in individual cases.

Due to the ban, the 3D and 4D ultrasound examinations without a diagnostic requirement can no longer be billed from 2021. The ultrasound examination as well as the use of the 3D / 4D ultrasound device is still permitted for diagnostic purposes and can be carried out by doctors without restriction. According to the President of the Professional Association of Gynecologists, 3D and 4D ultrasound is necessary especially for precise diagnostics such as measuring the head circumference of the embryo or the visibility of brain structures.

Is it still worth buying?

Doctors have to be prepared for many questions from parents-to-be when it comes to the risks of an ultrasound examination, especially 3D and 4D ultrasound. We recommend our customers to consider whether the investment in a 3D / 4D ultrasound device is worthwhile before buying.

On the one hand, such an ultrasound device represents a unique selling point in the gynecological practice and is elementary for the use of medical sonography and precise ultrasound diagnostics during pregnancy. On the other hand, the costs for a 3D / 4D ultrasound device are significantly higher than the price of a conventional ultrasound device.

modelPrice (new, with installation)
Ultrasound device without 3D / 4D functionapprox. € 4,000 - € 20,000
Ultrasound device with 3D / 4D functionapprox. € 14,000 - € 100,000