Fetal stimulation by pulsed diagnostic ultrasound

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Objective. To show that pulsed ultrasound from a clinical ultrasonic imaging system can stimulate the fetus. Stimulation is defined mainly as increased fetal gross body movements in response to excitation. Methods. Fetuses of a group of 9 volunteer women (mean gestational age, 33.37 weeks; range, 25-40 weeks) were evaluated for body movement under 3 different conditions: (1) control, with no ultrasound exposure; (2) ultrasound in continuous wave Doppler mode; and (3) pulsed ultrasound in pulsed Doppler and B modes. A conventional external fetal monitor, with negligible ultrasonic output, was used to monitor fetal gross body motions. After an initial rest period of 3 minutes with 1 or no fetal motion, fetuses were monitored for an additional 3 minutes under the exposure criterion defined for each condition. Resulting fetal motions under the 3 conditions were compared using the Wilcoxon signed rank test. Results. The test showed that fetuses moved significantly more frequently under condition 3 (mean ± SD, 3.43 ± 1.93 movements per minute) than under condition 1 (0.40 ± 7.33 movements per minute) or condition 2 (0.63 ± 7.67 movements per minute); P = .004 and .016, respectively. Fetal movements under conditions 1 and 2 did not differ significantly. Conclusion. Diagnostic ultrasound may stimulate fetal body motion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)883-889
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Ultrasound in Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2001


  • Fetal hearing
  • Fetal motion
  • Radiation force
  • Sound
  • Stimulation
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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