Can I get a 3D pregnancy scan for my dog?


In the past decade, 3D/4D ultrasound has evolved beyond being a mere concept or gimmick, to the point at which it can now deliver useful images. A number of private human pregnancy scanning clinics have opened up across the UK, and as such, 3D and 4D ultrasound scanning has become part of people’s consciousness.

3D refers to a still three dimensional image, whereas 4D refers to a moving one (the forth dimension is time). Here’s an explanation of 2D, 3D HD and 4D HD live technology by Maria Christopoulos:

The equipment used by Maria in this video to create such stunning images costs in excess of £80,000. Whilst impressive 2D images and videos can now be obtained on equipment a fraction of this price, 3D/4D imaging requires a dedicated 3D transducer. In order to be able to image in three dimensions, the number of crystals required to generate an image is squared; so whilst a standard transducer may have 256 crystals arranged in a strip, a 3D transducer requires 65,536 (256²). This, along with the additional channels, post-processing and software requirements, explain the much higher cost of equipment for 3D/4D imaging.

For this reason:

  • 3D and 4D ultrasound is not currently used commercially anywhere in veterinary medicine. Even research papers experimenting with this technology on animals are few and far between.
  • In the world of human scanning, 3D/4D scanning is not offered on the NHS. Given that there are no known medical benefits to performing a 3D or 4D pregnancy scan, the extra £50,000+ per machine for the transducer and software simply is not justifiable for the NHS. 3D scans can only be obtained privately, and tend to cost £150-£200 per session.
  • Even in echocardiography, where the benefits of 3D are arguably greater (many surgeons find a 3D scan of a valve lesion or cardiac defect a very helpful “sneak preview” to help them plan their surgical approach and strategy), the majority of departments do not have 3D probes – and many don’t even use machines capable of supporting them. 3D cardiac scanning tends to be confined to tertiary centres at the present time.

There are no lay scanners in the United Kingdom offering 3D ultrasound scans

… But there are Chinese sellers on eBay pretending to sell 3D ultrasound scanning equipment for only a few hundred pounds, and unfortunately, there are individuals who buy this sham equipment and set up scanning businesses with it. Having never received any ultrasound training, these people are wilfully ignorant, and may even advertise a “3D ultrasound scan” service – although they don’t actually know what one is.

If anyone offers you a 3D ultrasound scan for your pet, this should immediately set alarm bells ringing, and we encourage you to report them to us.

Of course, we always recommend that you use businesses accredited by the AUA, to ensure that the service you receive is the very best. All of our members are fully trained, use appropriate and safe equipment, and have been scanning for years. In Bristol, for example, we have Sharon Pearce at Canine Scanning Southwest. Sharon is one of the pioneers of modern-day small animal pregnancy scanning, hosting the first ever canine pregnancy scanning training course in the UK. On top of this, she over 30 years’ dog breeding experience, and her clients frequently report that her advice, reassurance and expertise are priceless. Anyone in the Somerset area looking for a pregnancy confirmation scan for their bitch can contact Sharon on 07793026446.



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