LAUREL, MD - The American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM), an organization devoted to the safe and effective use of ultrasound, is reasserting its opposition to the use of ultrasound for entertainment purposes. This comes in the wake of a reemergence of companies capitalizing on the business of providing fetal keepsake videos to expectant mothers and their families.

Using ultrasound for entertainment purposes has long been a controversial issue within the ultrasound community, as many, including the AIUM, are concerned that this casual use of ultrasound may have harmful repercussions.

First and foremost is the concern of safety. The AIUM has cautioned “although there are no confirmed biological effects from ultrasound at the present time, the possibility exists that such biological effects may be identified in the future.” The AIUM, therefore, recommends that ultrasound should be used in a prudent manner, only to provide medical benefit to the patient.

According to the AIUM’s official statement on the Prudent Use of Ultrasound, “the use of either two-dimensional (2D) or three-dimensional (3D) ultrasound to only view the fetus, obtain a picture of the fetus, or determine the fetal gender without a medical indication is inappropriate and contrary to responsible medical practice.”

Yet another concern about fetal keepsake videos is that patients may misinterpret the session as a medical examination, thus giving them a false sense of security, or at the other extreme, they may be given inaccurate findings that may cause them to undergo unnecessary follow-up tests.

“Many pregnant women expect that their ultrasound procedure examination they have will identify problems. This is not the case with entertainment sonograms. Entertainment sonograms do not assess fetal well-being. The personnel performing these studies are often very unskilled while most 3D and 4D studies require considerable expertise so that and at times the images created can be either disappointing or give a misleading appearance to the fetus. An entertainment sonogram is a misuse of ultrasound technology and should not be offered. In addition, it should not replace a medically indicated ultrasound examination,” said AIUM President Alfred B. Kurtz, MD.

One operator of a commercial fetal keepsake ultrasound studio was quoted in an article in the Wall Street Journal as saying, “I don’t care if the fetus has three legs, I’d only point out two. I don’t care if their uterus has fibroids, or if they have too much or too little amniotic fluid or where the placenta is. I have informed these people I’m not a doctor, that I’m not trying to find abnormalities.”

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) supports the AIUM’s position and has warned “persons who promote, sell or lease ultrasound equipment for making keepsake fetal videos should know that the FDA views this as an unapproved use of a medical device. Those who subject individuals to ultrasound exposure using a diagnostic ultrasound device (a prescription device) without a physician’s order may be in violation of state or local laws or regulations regarding use of a prescription medical device.” (The FDA’s statement on “Fetal Keepsake Videos” can be viewed in its entirety at http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/consumer/fetalvideos.html). The AIUM remains vigilant in reporting companies that promote the use of ultrasound for entertainment to the FDA so that appropriate action can be taken against them.

The AIUM is a multidisciplinary organization dedicated to advancing the art and science of ultrasound in medicine and research through its educational, scientific, literary, and professional activities. The AIUM has been able to promote the safe and effective use of ultrasound in clinical medicine for 50 years.