5D, 4D, and 3D Ultrasound Machines – What Is the Difference?

In this post, we provide an all-encompassing rundown of the differences between 5D, 4D, and 3D ultrasound machines. As it is today, technology is evolving at a rapid pace, so is the image quality of ultrasounds. 

By the end of this post, you will be able to distinguish between all kinds of ultrasound images. We will do our best to convey our almost 20 years of experience with ultrasound imaging.

But before we dive into the newer technologies, let us do a recap of the standard in ultrasound imaging – 2D ultrasound machines. 

2D Ultrasound Machines – The Traditional Ultrasound Machine Technology

2D ultrasound machines produce two-dimensional monochrome images. This is the traditional way of scanning, also referred to as sonography. When used in pregnancy scanning, it provides images of the fetus’s internal anatomy, including soft tissues, organs, and other anatomy. 

When doing 2D ultrasound scanning, the ultrasound transducer is covered with gel and placed directly on the skin. It emits high-frequency sound waves that bounce back on flat black-and-white images. 

Even though the health professional, such as a sonographer or a midwife, can move the transducer in different positions to capture images in different planes, the outcome will still be a flat image. 

All ultrasound machines on the medical imaging market can create 2D images. However, not all 2D ultrasound machines can do 3D, 4D or 5D imaging. 

Examples of ultrasounds that only do 2D ultrasound imaging are: 

2D Ultrasound Machine Image

So, What about 5D, 4D, and 3D Ultrasound Machines?

Although 2D ultrasound machines are the most widely used among health practitioners, advanced technologies are becoming more and more common. 

Nowadays, doctors can view internal images also in 3D, 4D, and even 5D. But as we discussed above, this option is not accessible on all ultrasound machines. 

3D, 4D, and 5D are not utilized in all ultrasound studies. You will mainly encounter them within OB/GYN and sometimes also within cardiology. If your focus is radiology, the systems available to you will only have a 2D option.

Differences in 3D ultrasound machines, 4D, 5D and 2D ultrasound images

Let’s Talk about 3D Ultrasound Machines

It is a more advanced technology in ultrasound imaging, which shows three-dimensional images of the fetus or the heart. 3D ultrasound machines show a more detailed picture than 2D ultrasound.

How does the image quality alter from the traditional 2D ultrasound?

The pictures are orange, golden coloured and are created by reflected waves and angles which differ from one another.

Then these images integrate the information into high-speed computing software to create a 3D image.

Working with 3D ultrasound machines requires less time for examinations than 2D. 

3D ultrasound machines, that we offer:

3D ultrasound machines

What Is a 4D Ultrasound Machine?

4D is similar to 3D ultrasound machines, however, the main difference is that the generated image is continuously updated. It is a live stream of the 3D image. 

When used in pregnancy scanning, it enables patients to watch their baby in live motions. 4D ultrasound is usually performed to discover structural congenital anomalies of the fetus.

What ultrasound machines can produce 4D images?

 For example: 

How Do 4D and 3D Ultrasound Machines Differ from 2D Ultrasounds?

While within general imaging and radiology you will only encounter 2D ultrasound systems, 3D and 4D ultrasound imaging options are now available in OB/GYN as well as cardiology. 

When used a 3D ultrasound machine is used in cardiology, the ultrasound needs to have a specific application and come with a 3D/4D volumetric cardiac probe or a 3D TEE probe.

3D and 4D ultrasound images are especially popular among future parents as they can get a better view of their baby. 

The advantages of 4D and 3D ultrasound machines are:

  • They can help detect possible birth defects such as cleft lip, heart defects, skeletal problems or neural abnormalities
  • Due to the clear images, practitioners can reduce their time on standard plane visualisation
  • Recorded data is available for the patients
  • They show a clearer image in both internal and external examinations from different angles, such as the heart wall, valves, or blood flow in various vessels

If you own a private OB/GYN clinic, a 4D and 3D ultrasound machine can help you optimize your return on investment. It enables you to expand your offerings and thus provide extra service to your patients. 

How about  5D Ultrasound Machines (HD)?

If you thought that is it, technology cannot be better than live motions, just carry on with us. 

The most recent advancement in ultrasound technology is HD and HD Live, which some also call 5D ultrasounds. It captures even clearer, sharper images. 

5D ultrasound machine technology focuses on workflow and automation. The results of this ultrasound will be auto-populated and more consistent. The ultrasound images are of higher quality than traditional machines, therefore, it gives the baby a life-like flesh tone colour. Most importantly, the medical facts of the fetus are clear and abnormalities are more visible due to the high-quality images.

5D ultrasound only processes the images more clearly, but the method of the scan is the same as with the more traditional versions. 

5D ultrasound is not very common, you will only encounter it within OB/GYN. For example on the Samsung WS80A with Elite.

The Main Differences between 5D, 4D, and 3D, and 2D Ultrasound Machines

Finally, we want to make it easy for you to be on top of the differences between 5D, 4D, 3D, and 2D ultrasound machines. And thus, we made a simple overview below:

3D Ultrasound machines, 4D Ultrasound machines, 2D Ultrasound machines

By now, we hope you gained a clear understanding of the main distinctions between the different ultrasound machines. 

If you would like to learn more about ultrasound machines in general, you can read our Guide to Ultrasound Machines.

You can also take a look at the best cardiology ultrasound machines available on the used market.

If you prefer, you can sign up for our email course, which will walk you through the main points of how to pick the perfect ultrasound machine. That will also give access to an ultrasound e-book you can download.