[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
April 23, 1982

Question of risk still hovers over routine prenatal use of ultrasound

JAMA. 1982;247(16):2195-2197. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320410003001

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


In the past ten years, ultrasound has developed from a research instrument into a valuable and widely used diagnostic tool in the practice of obstetrics. Its ability to "see" inside the womb, its noninvasiveness, and its apparent safety have led a growing number of obstetricians to advocate its routine use in prenatal care.

But at a recent symposium concerning the effects of ultrasound on the fetus, research scientists and clinicians shied away from such a recommendation, citing their inability to quantify the risk. Until physicians can say with assurance that ultrasound does not produce subtle or delayed harmful effects, it should be used only when medically indicated, most of the participants agreed. The meeting, sponsored by the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, included a discussion of recent in vitro, in vivo, and epidemiological investigations and their implications for