What is Ultrasound?

Ultrasound imaging, also called ultrasonography, uses sound waves to produce pictures of the inside of the body. When the sound waves strike an object, they bounce back and product echoes. By measuring these echo waves, it is possible to determine how far away the object is and its size, shape and consistency (whether the object is solid, filled with fluid or both). Because ultrasound images are captured in real-time, they can show the structure and movement of the body's internal organs, as well blood flowing through blood vessels or movement of joins or tendons in the musculoskeletal system. 

What are the uses of ultrasound?

Ultrasound examinations are used to help diagnose a variety of conditions. Ultrasound may be helpful to evaluate symptoms such as pain, swelling, infection and blood in the urine. Ultrasound is a useful way of examining many of the body's internal organs, including but not limited to the:

  • Bladder
  • Brain and hips in infants less than siz months old
  • Fetus in pregnant patients
  • Gallbladder
  • Blood vessels, including the abdominal aeorta and its major branches
  • Kidneys
  • Liver
  • Scrotum (testicles)
  • Spleen
  • Thyroid
  • Uterus and ovaries

Ultrasound is also used to guide proceures such as needle biopsies, in which needles are directed into abnormal or suspicious areas to obtain tissue for laboratory testing.

How is the ultrasound exam performed?

A clear water-based gel is applied to the area of the body being studied to help the transducer make secure contract with the body. The gel helps to eliminate any air pockets that might form between the transducer and the skin. The ultrasound technologist presses the transducer firmly against the skin in various locations, sweeping over the area of interest or angling the sound beam to better see an area of concern. In some ultrasound examinations, such as transrectral and transvaginal, the transducer is inserted into a natural opening in the body. After your exam, a radiologist will interpret the images and generate a report. Your physician will share your ultrasound results with you.

What are the risks of ultrasound?

For standard diagnostic ultrasound exams, there are no known harmful effects to humans