I am a sonographer (ultrasound technologist) with more than 25 years experience. I would like to piont out that the article questioning the medical need for ultrasound (US) is from 1999. My institution was involved with at least one of the cited large-scale clinical trials that concluded there is no difference in outcomes between patients who did and didnot receive USs. No one disputes the validity of the reuslts but the methods used to acquire the data has come under much scrutiny and, therefore the methods obviously impacted the results.
Although there are several valid arguments (and cited references to support them) one issue that always comes to mind for me is this: if the use of US catches one abnormality that needs immediate attention at the time of birth and you are the parents of that baby then your perspective on the use is likely very different than looking at the results of large-scale randomized clinical trials. It is the same as using mammography or any other imaging modality for "screening". There will be false-positive cases and false negative cases but if mammography catches an unexpected cancer (as it is designed to do) and it saves lives then it has proven itself.
I am reminded of a time when I was coming back from a medical conference in Europe and while passing through customs the official asked me what I did in EU - when I replied I did ultrasound and was lecturing at a conference his reply was "Ultrasound saved my wife's life because it found a breast cancer that wasn't seen on the x-ray". He whisked me through and couldn't thank me enough - regardless of the fact that I personally had nothing to do w/ his wife's care!
The bottom line is this: the use of US does detect abnormalities and provides peace of mind to expectant mothers and fathers to be. I will add that the accuracy of sonography (US) is DIRECTLY RELATED TO THE PERSON PERFORMING THE EXAM. Thus, I encourage everyone who is having a scan done (OB, GYN or any other type of US) to inquire about the qualifications of the person holding the transducer (they should be "ARDMS" credntialled) and / or the accreditation status of the laboratory (there are several accrediting bodies including the AIUM, ACR and ICAVAL).
feel free to contact me directly if I can provide any assistance.