Obstetric ultrasound utilization in the United States: data from various health plans

Semin Perinatol. 2013 Oct;37(5):292-4. doi: 10.1053/j.semperi.2013.06.003.


There is currently a lack of published data on ultrasound utilization in obstetrics in the United States. In order to get some meaningful information on this topic, we analyzed de-identified data obtained from large insurance providers and underwriters that covered large segment of the United States population in various geographic areas of the country. Our results show an overall significant increase in utilization of obstetric ultrasound over the years, with pregnancies receiving around 4-5 ultrasounds per pregnancy. Another important aspect of the data is a higher than expected utilization of the targeted 76811 ultrasound examination, with utilization rates between 30% and 50%, beyond the original intention of the targeted code. Despite the fact that the data was not intended to shed light on indication of ultrasound or competency of ultrasound providers, in a healthcare world of shrinking reimbursement, as leaders of quality, we should ensure that ultrasound examinations that pregnant women receive are indicated and are performed by competent healthcare workers in ultrasound laboratories that meet accreditation standards.

Keywords: Data; Low risk; Obstetrical ultrasound; Utilization.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care / methods
  • Prenatal Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States