Ultrasound is a type of diagnostic imaging that uses high-frequency sound waves to obtain images inside the human body. Also known as a sonogram, or sonography, to some, the reflected sound waves are used to form images that are studied by radiologists to create real-time visual images. No radiation is involved in an ultrasound procedure.
An ultrasound can be used to examine internal organs like the heart, kidneys, spleen, pancreas, liver and gallbladder, among others. Ultrasounds are good for showing live movement, blood flow and functions within the heart's valves. Many women have "sonograms" during pregnancy during which an obstetrician may view a fetus to determine its size, general health and, at certain points in its development, the sex of a soon-to-be-born child.
Limitations Of Ultrasound Studies
Ultrasound testing is not useful for studying bone structures, whereas MRI's are more effective in such cases. And, since ultrasound waves may have a limited usefulness in evaluating the stomach, small intesting and large intestine. Patients who are obese are often difficult to study, because the sound waves weaken as they penetrate and bounce back from a greater distance.
What To Expect
Since almost all ultrasound procedures are painless, patients tend to be comfortable and happy about the non-invasive nature of having an ultrasound performed. An ultrasound technologist (or a radiologist, gynceologist or obstetrician), uses a transducer (a microphone-like device) that is passed over the part(s) of a person that is to be studied.
After a gel is applied to the skin to reduce the possibility of air getting between the skin and the transducer, the transducer is pressed against the skin, at which time it directs the sound waves against the body. As it echoes back, it begins to create images of the body's internal organs and its movement can provide important, real-time information, to the physician.
Since ultrasound tests are done in real-time, the patient often does not have to wait long for results. It's fast, it's easy, and the whole process usually takes less than 30 minutes.
Our radiologists will send your physician a report with our findings, and your doctor can use this information to confirm a diagnosis or rule out other problems that may have been suspected.