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What to Expect

Fetal Imaging

When your physician sends an order to the Fetal Imaging Center at Phoenix Children’s, one of our registered nurse care coordinators will contact you to schedule your test. Your care coordinator will give you detailed instructions on what to expect on the day of your test.

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Telephone: 602-933-4411
Fax: 602-933-4268
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It’s important to follow these instructions before your fetal imaging test:

  • Do not wear jewelry or clothes with metal parts, such as snaps or zippers.
  • Please arrive one hour before your test is scheduled, and bring a photo ID.
  • Park in the Thomas garage, in front of the main hospital near the entrance.

Your physician may order one or more of the following tests:

Fetal MRI

If you will be having a fetal MRI, expect to be at the Fetal Imaging Center for three to four hours. These instructions will help you get started:

  • Use the main entrance and sign in at the visitor’s desk. From there you will be directed to Radiology check-in.
  • Take a seat in the waiting area, where a registration person will call you when they are ready.
  • Tell the technician if you have any implanted medical devices, such as shunts, rods or nerve stimulators that are made of metal.

MRI scans usually take about one hour, but if your baby moves a lot, it could take longer or need to be repeated. The technologist will let you know if you need another test. Your MRI will proceed with these steps:

  • You will lie on your back on the MRI table. If this is very uncomfortable, we can perform the MRI with you lying on your side.
  • During the MRI, you will hear loud noises. We will give you earplugs to minimize the noise.
  • You will have a button to push if you become very uncomfortable during the test.
  • You may be asked to hold your breath at some point. This is because breathing movements can make the images blurry.

The goal is to get all the images the radiologist needs to make an accurate diagnosis. In some cases, an ultrasound will be done after the MRI to make sure there is enough information.

The radiologist will examine the images as they are taken, and then meet with you after the test is completed to review the preliminary images. After meeting with you, your radiologist will examine the images in more detail and take measurements.

The radiologist will then call your referring physician with the results, and also send a report. You can call your physician in a couple of days to ask about the best way to get the final results.

Read more about how to prepare for a fetal MRI.

Fetal Ultrasound

Fetal ultrasound is done over the abdomen (transabdominal ultrasound) or can be done through the vagina (transvaginal ultrasound) in special cases.

For a transabdominal ultrasound, wear loose-fitting clothing so you can lift it to expose your abdomen. Your test will proceed with these steps:

  • You’ll lie on an exam table with your abdomen exposed.
  • A technician will apply a warm gel to your abdomen. This helps transmit the sound waves to your uterus.
  • The technician may ask you to move into several positions to get a better view of the fetus.
  • After the procedure, you can wipe off any remaining gel.

For a transvaginal ultrasound, you’ll be asked to undress from the waist down or put on a hospital gown. You’ll also empty your bladder before the test. Transvaginal ultrasounds proceed with these steps:

  • You’ll like on an exam table and put your feet in stirrups, similar to a gynecological exam.
  • A transducer, which produces sound waves that create the images, is inserted into your vagina. It is covered with a plastic sheath and lubricated with warm gel.

The radiologist will analyze the images and send a report on your test to your physician, who will share it with you.

Fetal Low-Dose CT Scan

This test usually takes about 30 minutes overall, with an actual scanning time of just a few seconds. It proceeds with these steps:

  • The radiologist will begin by doing a brief ultrasound to find the top and bottom of your uterus.
  • With these borders marked, you’ll lie on a table that moves into a large, doughnut-shaped device.
  • The CT scan captures the images of the fetus in seconds.

After your CT scan, the radiologist will examine the images of your baby’s bones and send a report to your physician, who will let you know the findings and diagnosis.

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