Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: September 2011

Chapter 7 - Ethics of ultrasonography

from Section 1: - Imaging techniques


This chapter reviews the basic principles of radiologic tests, and describes the basic female anatomy. It provides information for appropriate imaging modalities for each part of the female genital tract. Currently ultrasound plays a role in monitoring the uterus during ovarian stimulation and early pregnancy. Assessment of uterine leiomyoma is historically achieved with ultrasonography, although computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) also offer detection of uterine fibroids. In reproductive medicine, imaging of the tubes is typically limited to evaluation of patency and distortion of normal anatomy, as in hydrosalpinges and salpingitis isthmica nodosum. Pituitary imaging is mostly performed in reproductive medicine for the infertile patient with persistently elevated prolactin levels or with levels over 100 ng/ml. Imaging is rarely performed in reproductive medicine specifically to evaluate for peritoneal disease. Laparoscopy is considered the gold standard for diagnosis of peritoneal processes such as endometriosis.


1. CooperTR, CaplanWD, Garcia-PratsJA, BrodyBA. The interrelationship of ethical issues in the transition from old paradigms to new technologies. J Clin Ethics 1996; 7(3): 243–50.
2. GorincourG, TassyS, LeCozP. The moving face of the fetus-the changing face of medicine. Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol 2006; 28(7): 979–80.
3. BoyleRJ, de CrespignyL, SavulescuJ. An ethical approach to giving couples information about their fetus. Hum Reprod 2003; 18(11): 2253–6.
4. ChervenakFA, McCulloughLB.Scientifically and ethically responsible innovation and research in ultrasound in obstetrics and gynecology. Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol 2006; 28(1): 1–4.
5. StraussRP. Beyond easy answers: Prenatal diagnosis and counseling during pregnancy. Cleft Palate Craniofac J 2002; 39(2): 164–8.
6. KongnyuyEJ, van den BroekN.The use of ultrasonography in obstetrics in developing countries. Trop Doct 2007; 37(2): 70–2.
7. ACOG Committee Opinion. Non-medical use of obstetric ultrasonography. Obstet Gynecol 2004; 104(2): 423–4.
8. ChervenakFA, McCulloughLB.Ethics in fetal medicine. Baillieres Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol 1999; 13(4): 491–502.
9. WilliamsC. Dilemmas in fetal medicine: premature application of technology or responding to women’s choice?Sociol Health Illn 2006; 28(1): 1–20.
10. KohutRJ, DeweyD, LoveEJ.Women’s knowledge of prenatal ultrasound and informed choice. J Genet Couns 2002; 11(4): 265–76.
11. McFadyenA, GledhillJ, WhitlowB, EconomidesD. First trimester ultrasound screening. Carries ethical and psychological implications. BMJ 1998; 317(7160): 694–5.
12. GagenWJ, BishopJP. Ethics, justification and the prevention of spina bifida. J Med Ethics 2007; 33(9): 501–7.
13. SavellK. Life and death before birth: 4D ultrasound and the shifting frontiers of the abortion debate. J Law Med 2007; 15(1): 103–16.
14. GreenlandP, Lloyd-JonesD. Critical lessons from the ENHANCE trial. JAMA 2008; 299(8): 953–5.
15. BarnettSB. Live scanning at ultrasound scientific conferences and the need for prudent policy. Ultrasound Med Biol 2003; 29(8): 1071–6.
16. GammeltoftT, NguyenHT. Fetal conditions and fatal decisions: ethical dilemmas in ultrasound screening in Vietnam. Soc Sci Med 2007; 64(11): 2248–59.