Canadian rads, OB/GYNs caution against 'entertainment ultrasounds'

A revised joint policy statement by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) and the Canadian Association of Radiology (CAR) on the non-clinical use of ultrasound has been published in the February issue of the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada.

With the rise of non-clinical ultrasound use in Canada, many non-medical clinics are performed gender determination in the first trimester of pregnancy. The SOGC and CAR found it necessary to update their previous policy statements on this issue due to the conception of “entertainment” ultrasound units across Canada.

The joint policy makes the following statements:

  • SOGC and CAR support Health Canada recommendations regarding non-medical use of ultrasound units and recommends that the technology be used prudently by qualified health professionals to ensure that energy exposure is limited and minimal.
  • Ultrasound should not be used for the sole purpose of fetal gender determination without medical indication.
  • SOGC and CAR are strongly against the non-medical use of fetal ultrasound and would like government involvement in order to find a means of dealing with the public health issue.

Though there is no authoritative evidence of fetal abnormalities being linked to diagnostic ultrasound in humans, subtle effects on the physiology and development of the fetal brain have been recently discovered in animal models. Fetal energy exposure may not be properly monitored during non-medical use of fetal ultrasound and equipment operators may not be adequately trained to identify adverse abnormalities.