Family portrait: one local business can provide pictures of unborn children, and service members get a huge discount
by Staff Sgt. Randy Redman
Since its introduction in the late 1950's, ultrasonography has become an indispensable diagnostic tool in Obstetrics, but the 2-D, X-Ray-like images of unborn babies, while useful, always have left much to the imagination of parents trying to get a first good look at their pending new addition. That's changed with recent 3_D imaging technology, which for the first time produces a lifelike image similar to a photographic portrait.
And thanks to the generosity of one local business woman, military families can enjoy a substantial discount on the cost of obtaining a high resolution image that for most is destined to occupy page one of their baby books.
The 3-D ultrasound is performed the same way as traditional ultrasound, with a sensitive wand moved over the surface of the body. With the addition of special computer software, the resulting image is enhanced and a lifelike picture is produced.
Susan Guidi, R.D.M.S., president of Advanced Ultrasound Services, felt she wasn't doing enough to thank the men and women serving our country. So she cut the cost from $300 to $90 for military members from the Tampa area. Those interested can call the office at 258-3308 or go online to www.ultrasound3d.net.
"I like to think of it as the in utero-pediatric exam. It's my belief that every baby should have its first pediatric exam before it's born," said Ms. Guidi. "Namely because we can do all the same things a pediatrician can do while the baby is still in the womb."
Ms. Guidi can use the images and software to measure a baby's weight, check for any abnormalities and even examine internal organs to ensure they are working normally. The degree of detail available with the 3-dimensional ultrasound is phenomenal when compared to standard ultrasound pictures. Expectant mothers should be pleasantly surprised to hear that a full bladder is not necessary for this procedure.
"I burn everything onto a DVD for the mom to take home. That way she can show anybody with access to a computer the pictures," said Ms. Guidi. "I record audio too and it's great when I have a whole roomful watching (the ultrasound). The whole family can enjoy it together and (the disc) will last forever."
With disc in hand, any expectant mother with a deployed husband would be able to e-mail the digital image files. Ms. Guidi said the psychological benefits of being able to see the unborn baby are tremendous for the parents. And it can mean improved health for the baby because of reduced stress on the mother.
"You can see the baby's face, and it actually looks like a face," said a patient who had a 3-dimensional ultrasound Feb. 14. "But the coolest part is that you can watch it over and over at home."
Passionate about her chosen career, Ms. Guidi has extensive training and expertise in ultrasound, especially high-risk obstetrical/gynecological ultrasound imaging. She received her ultrasound training at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md., and received a master's degree from the University de Marie et Pierre Curie in Paris, France.
While working as a sonographer in hospitals and private practice since 1979, she also has served as an ultrasound instructor in the United States and South America. In addition to her owner and operator status at Advanced Ultrasound Services, she teaches OB/GYN medical students and residents from the University of South Florida.
"My biggest reward is that we have generated an enormous amount of respect from the doctors in Tampa. Obviously nobody uses this as their only exam, but doctors are beginning to recognize that this method of ultrasound is much more advanced than standard ultrasounds," said Ms. Guidi. "Another great thing is that it starts a permanent medical record even before the baby is born. Years later, doctors can go back to the original ultrasound and research any abnormalities or conditions which were present in the womb."
In a testimonial on the Web site, Anna Parsons, M.D., said, "3-D ultrasound makes a standard ultrasound test more reliable than 2-D images. It will change the way ultrasound exams are done in the future."
Which is exactly what Ms. Guidi hopes for, not from a business perspective but rather as a woman well on her way to helping change the status quo.
"Medicine, to me, has always been about making people feel better," she said. "And that's what 3-D ultrasound does."